A court in military-ruled Myanmar convicted the country’s former leader Aung San Suu Kyi of corruption and sentenced her to five years in prison on Wednesday in the first of several corruption cases against grandma.
Suu Kyi, who was ousted by a military takeover last year, has denied allegations that she received gold and hundreds of thousands of dollars given to her as a bribe from a top political colleague. .
Her supporters and independent legal experts see her prosecution as an unjust move aimed at discrediting Ms. Suu Kyi and legitimizing the military’s hold on power while keeping the people’s leader. sent the 76-year-old back to an active role in politics.
She was sentenced to six years in prison in other cases and faces 10 more corruption charges. The maximum penalty under the Anti-Corruption Act is 15 years in prison and a fine. Sentences in other cases could bring a total sentence of more than 100 years in prison for a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who has been detained for years for defying military rule.
News of Wednesday’s ruling came from a legal official who asked to remain anonymous because he is not authorized to disclose such information. Suu Kyi’s trial in the capital Naypyitaw was closed to the media, diplomats and spectators, and her lawyers were barred from speaking to the press.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy Party won a landslide victory in the 2020 general election, but lawmakers were not allowed to take their seats when the military took power on February 1. in 2021, arresting Ms. Suu Kyi and many senior colleagues in her party and government. . The military claims it acted because there was massive election fraud, but independent election observers did not find any major anomalies.
According to a monitoring group, the Association to Support Political Prisoners, the takeover was met with massive nonviolent protests across the country.
As repression increased, armed resistance against the military government grew, and some UN experts now say the country is in a state of civil war.
Suu Kyi has not been seen or allowed to speak in public since she was detained and is being held at an undisclosed location. However, at last week’s final hearing on the case, she appeared to be in good health and asked her supporters to “unite,” a legal official familiar with the proceedings asked. asked to remain anonymous because it was not authorized to disclose the information. .
In previous cases, Suu Kyi was sentenced to six years in prison for illegally importing and possessing walkie-talkies, violating coronavirus restrictions and sedation.
In the case decided on Wednesday, she allegedly received US$600,000 and seven gold bars in 2017-2018 from Phyo Min Thein, the former prime minister of Yangon, the country’s largest city and a senior member of the government. her political party. Her lawyers, before they were served gag orders late last year, said she dismissed all of his testimony against her as “absurd”.
Nine other cases are currently being heard under the Anti-Corruption Act, including several involving the purchase and lease of helicopters by one of her former Cabinet ministers. Violations of the law carry the maximum penalty for each offense of 15 years in prison and a fine.
Suu Kyi is also accused of funneling charitable donations to build a mansion and abusing her position to obtain below-market rental property for a foundation in her mother’s name. The state’s anti-corruption commission has stated that some of her alleged actions deprive the state of revenue it should have earned.
Another corruption charge that accuses her of accepting bribes has yet to go to trial.
Suu Kyi is also being tried on charges of violating the Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years, and for election fraud, a maximum sentence of three years.