A court in Myanmar sentenced ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi to four years in prison on Monday after finding her guilty of importing and illegally possessing radios, a legal official said. and violating coronavirus restrictions.
Ms. Suu Kyi was convicted last month on two other charges and received a four-year prison sentence, later halved by the head of the government set up by the military.
The cases are among about a dozen filed against the 76-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate since the military came to power last February, overthrowing her elected government and arresting top members of the group. her National League for Democracy party.
If convicted of all counts, she could be sentenced to more than 100 years in prison.
Suu Kyi’s supporters and independent analysts say the charges against her are designed to legitimize the military’s hold on power and prevent her from returning to politics.
Monday’s ruling in court in the capital Naypyitaw, was conveyed by a legal official who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by the authorities, who have restricted the release of information about her trials. Suu Kyi.
He said she was sentenced to two years in prison under the Import-Export Law for importing radios and one year under the Telecommunications Law for owning them. Judgments will be served concurrently. She also received a two-year sentence under the Natural Disaster Management Act for allegedly violating coronavirus rules while campaigning.
Suu Kyi was convicted last month of two other counts – incitement and breach of COVID-19 restrictions – and sentenced to four years in prison. Hours after the sentence was handed down, the head of the military-formed government, Senior Lieutenant General Min Aung Hlaing, halved the sentence.
Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide victory in the 2020 general election, but the military claims widespread election fraud, an assertion that independent pollsters suspect.
Since her first guilty verdict, Suu Kyi has attended the trials in prison attire – a white shirt and brown skirt provided by the authorities. She is being held by the military at an undisclosed location, where state television reported last month that she would serve her sentence.
The hearings were closed to the media and audience and prosecutors did not comment. Her lawyers, who have served as sources of information about the proceedings, were served gag orders in October.
The government formed by the military has not allowed any outsiders to meet Ms. Suu Kyi since taking power, despite international pressure over talks including that she could defuse the crisis. violent politics of the country.
Would not allow a special envoy of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which Myanmar is a member, to meet her. The refusal received rare criticism from fellow members, who banned Min Aung Hlaing from attending its annual summit meeting.
Even Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has assumed the position of regional group chairman for this year and advocates sticking with the ruling generals, did not meet her last week when he became political head. first government to visit Myanmar since the military takeover.
According to a detailed list by the Political Prisoners Support Association, the military’s take-over was quickly met with nationwide nonviolent protests, which security forces quelled by force, killing more than 1,400 civilians died.
Peaceful protests have continued, but amid severe repression, an armed protest has also increased, to the point that UN experts have warned the country could fall into a civil war. civil war.
Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK, a group promoting democracy, said: “Throwing countless criminal charges against Aung San Suu Kyi … causes more despair than confidence.
He said in an email interview after her first conviction that the military made a “mass error” in thinking it could stop the protests by arresting Ms. Suu Kyi, co. her party and veteran independent political activists.
Farmerer said: “A new mass movement was born that did not depend on a single leader. There were hundreds of small groups that organized and resisted in a variety of ways, from peaceful demonstrations, boycotts and armed resistance. “. “Even with more than 7,000 people arrested since the coup, three times the average number detained under the previous military dictatorship, the military has been unable to crack down on dissidents.”
Ms. Suu Kyi was charged shortly after the military takeover for improperly importing radios, seen as the initial justification for her continued detention. A second allegation of illegal possession of radios was filed the following month.
Radios were seized from the gate to her residence and the barracks of her bodyguards during a search on February 1, the day of her arrest.
Suu Kyi’s lawyers argued that the radios were not in her personal possession and were lawfully used to help ensure her security, but the court refused to dismiss the charges.
She was charged with two counts of violating coronavirus restrictions while campaigning for the 2020 election. She was found guilty of the first one last month.
She is also being tried by the same court on five corruption charges. The maximum penalty for each charge is 15 years in prison and a fine. A sixth corruption charge against her and the overthrow of President Win Myint related to the issuance of licenses to lease and purchase helicopters has yet to go to trial.
In separate proceedings, she is accused of violating the Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years.
Myanmar’s Election Commission and 15 other politicians were also charged additionally in November for allegedly rigging the 2020 election. The allegations by the military-appointed Union Election Commission could be Suu Kyi’s party was dissolved and prevented from taking part in new elections that the army had promised to take place within two years of taking over.