Aung San Suu Kyi speaking at a Naypyitaw (Myanmar) press conference on December 17, 2019.
Source: Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) — A special court in Myanmar’s capital sentenced the country’s ousted leader, Aung San Suu KyiA court official stated Monday that after she was found guilty of incitement as well violating coronavirus restraints, she would be sentenced to four-year imprisonment

This sentencing marked the beginning of a string of cases where the 76 year-old Nobel laureate was convicted. is being prosecuted since the army seized power on Feb. 1This prevented her National League for Democracy party (Nation League for Democracy) from obtaining a second 5-year term. A second case against her will be decided next week.

She may be sentenced to over 100 years prison if found guilty of all her cases. According to a legal representative, Suu Kyi was not sent to jail for her two convictions. She could also be placed under house arrest. She has been under house arrest since 1989, when she began her long fight for democracy.

The incitement case involved statements posted on her party’s FacebookPage after page she was detained along with other leaders of the party, and the coronavirus accusation involved an appearance in campaign ahead elections last November which her party won overwhelmingly.

The army claimed widespread voting fraud. However, independent observers failed to detect major irregularities.

A Naypyitaw court judge issued a ruling. However, a lawyer insisted that the information be kept secret to avoid being caught by authorities. Suu Kyi’s trials are closed to the media and spectators, and her lawyers, who had been the sole source of information on the proceedings, were served with gag orders in October forbidding them from releasing information.

The ruling was not made public by the government. The British colonial system has left behind special courts that are appointed to handle specific cases. Most often, they are used to hear political cases.

According to a legal official, defense lawyers will file appeals for Suu Kyi’s conviction and those of two other colleagues on Monday.

Protesters hold portraits of deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi during an anti-coup demonstration in Mandalay, Myanmar on March 5, 2021.
During an anti-coup protest in Mandalay (Myanmar), on March 5, 2021, demonstrators held portraits of Aung San Suu Kyi, the deposed leader of Myanmar.
Source: Associated Press

Suu Kyi is widely considered to be a victim of a conspiracy designed to discredit her in order not allow her to run for office again. After being convicted for a crime, the constitution prohibits anyone from becoming a lawyer or holding high office.

Opposition to military rule remains strong 10 months after the army’s takeover, and the verdict may inflame tensions even further.

Protest marches were held on Sunday calling for Suu Kyi’s release and the immediate removal of other members of her government. An army truck deliberately sped into a march by about 30 young people in Yangon, the country’s biggest city, and at least three of the protesters may have been killed, according to unconfirmed reports.

The verdicts in Suu Kyi’s first two cases, on incitement — for allegedly spreading false or inflammatory information that could disturb public order — and violating the Natural Disaster Management Law for allegedly breaching coronavirus restrictions, were supposed to be delivered last Tuesday. The court delayed its decision without explanation. The court also accepted testimony from this week regarding a coronavirus defense charge. This was provided by an additional defense witness. He had been absent previously due to illness.

Suu Kyi’s lawyers sought vigorously to have the incitement charge dismissed. The prosecution’s evidence consisted of statements posted on a Facebook page of Suu Kyi’s party. Defense lawyers argued that Suu Kyi and a co-defendant, former President Win Myint, could not be held responsible for the statements — which criticized the takeover and suggested in broad terms that it be resisted — because they were already in detention.

Myo Aung was the former Naypyitaw mayor. He was also charged with incitement. The maximum punishment for this charge is two years in jail and a $250 fine. He was sentenced for two years. Win Myint was given a total sentence of four years. Two for incitement.

February’s seizure of power was met by nationwide nonviolent demonstrations, which security forces quashed with deadly force. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners compiles a comprehensive list of civilian deaths.

Due to severe restrictions on nonviolent protests, the level of armed resistance in both cities and rural areas has risen, to the extent that U.N. experts warned that the country was heading towards civil war.

Suu Kyi was detained by the military on the same day as its takeover. She has only been in court for a few of her cases.

Judgment on Suu Kyi’s second count of violating coronavirus restrictions is scheduled for Dec. 14. The maximum penalty for each count is three years’ imprisonment and a fine.

Another case against Suu Kyi is the alleged illegal import and misuse of walkietalkies by her security personnel; violation of Official Secrets Act where Sean Turnell (an Australian economist) is a codefendant; four other corruption cases covering the alleged taking of a corrupt offer to receive favorable terms in property transactions. Each of the corruption charges has a maximum penalty of 15 years’ imprisonment and a fine.

Although a trial has not begun for the fifth corruption case, state media reported last week that Suu Kyi has now been charged with a sixth crime.

Win Myint and her are accused of corruption when they granted permits to rent or buy a helicopter.

Mid-November saw the military-appointed elections commission announce it would prosecute Suu Kyi along with 15 senior political figures for fraudulent voting. If successful, this could mean her party is dissolving.

Independent election observers find no evidence that the military claims it has seized power due to widespread electoral fraud.


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