A court in military-ruled Myanmar has found the country’s deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi guilty of allegations of corruptionsentenced her to seven years in prison in the last of a series of criminal cases in an 18-month trial, a legal official said.
Aung San Suu Kyi, 77, a prisoner of war since a coup in 2021, has now been convicted of every charge against her, ranging from corruption to illegal possession of walkie-talkies and flouting COVID-19 restrictions.
Friday’s court ruling leaves the deposed leader alone a total of 33 years to serve in prison following the series of politically motivated persecutions in the wake of the military takeover in February 2021.
“All her cases have been completed and there are no more charges against her,” a legal source, who asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, told AFP news agency.
In the case closed on Friday, Aung San Suu Kyi allegedly abused its position and lost state resources by failing to comply with financial regulations in granting permission to Win Myat Aye, a cabinet member in her former government, to rent, purchase and maintain a helicopter.
Aung San Suu Kyi was the de facto head of government and held the title of state adviser. Win Myint, who was president in her administration, was a co-defendant in the same case.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s previous convictions already earned her a total of 26 years in prison.
“The question now is what to do with Aung San Suu Kyi,” said Richard Horsey of the International Crisis Group.
“Whether it’s allowing her to serve her sentence under some form of house arrest, or allowing foreign envoys limited access to her,” he said.
“But it is unlikely that the regime is in a hurry to make such decisions.”
Supporters and independent analysts said the numerous charges against Aung San Suu Kyi and her allies are an attempt to legitimize the military’s power grab while effectively removing her from political life in the country.
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said in a tweet that Aung San Suu Kyi had “no chance of justice” in the “kangaroo courts” of military-ruled Myanmar.
The farce continues! #Myanmar will sentence Aung San Suu Kyi today on more politically motivated and trumped-up charges brought before the junta’s kangaroo courts. No possibility of justice! SAC is trying to sideline ASSK/NLD for possible fake “elections” in 2023 https://t.co/EELlQBb7WW pic.twitter.com/PzsjY1Mcac
— Phil Robertson (@Reaproy) December 30, 2022
The corruption allegations against the Nobel Peace Prize laureate were “ridiculous,” Htwe Htwe Thein, an associate professor at Australia’s Curtin University, told AFP.
“Nothing in Aung San Suu Kyi’s leadership, administration or lifestyle indicates the slightest hint of corruption.”
More than a million people have been displaced since the military coup, according to the United Nations Children’s Organization.
The Political Prisoner Relief Agency, a rights monitoring organization, recently said more than 16,000 people had been arrested on political charges and at least 2,465 civilians had been arrested. killed by the armyalthough the actual number is thought to be much higher.
The military takeover in 2021 sparked widespread peaceful protests that the security forces tried to crush with deadly force and which now led to an armed resistance movement.
Friday’s verdict in the purpose-built courtroom at the main prison on the outskirts of the capital, Naypyidaw, was announced by a court official who insisted on anonymity for fear of punishment by authorities. The trial was closed to the media, diplomats and onlookers, and her lawyers were banned from speaking about it under a gag order.
The legal official said Aung San Suu Kyi received sentences of three years for each of the four charges, to be served concurrently, and four years for the charge related to the purchase of the helicopter, a total of seven years. Win Myint received the same penalties.
The defendants denied all allegations. Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyers are expected to appeal in the coming days.
The end of the lawsuits against her, at least for now, raises the possibility that she might receive outside visits, which she has been denied since her imprisonment.
The military government has repeatedly rejected all requests to meet with it, including from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which is trying to help end the crisis in Myanmar, which some UN experts have characterized as a civil war because of the armed conflict. opposition to the military. rule.
Last week, the UN Security Council called on the military government to release Aung San Suu Kyi in its first resolution on the situation in Myanmar since the coup.