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Myanmar: Military court postpones trial of deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi

Suu Kyi, who was ousted by an army takeover in February last year, could face up to 15 years in prison and a fine if convicted

FPJ Web Desk | Updated on: Tuesday, April 26, 2022, 02:42 PM IST

Myanmar's State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi reviews an honor guard at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on April 30, 2019 | AP
Myanmar's State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi reviews an honor guard at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on April 30, 2019 | AP
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A court in military-ruled Myanmar on Tuesday postponed by a day delivering a verdict on the first of almost a dozen corruption cases filed against the country’s former leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

The court in the capital Naypyitaw did not give any reason for delaying the expected verdict until Wednesday, said a legal official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to release information. Suu Kyi’s trial has been closed to the public, and her lawyers barred from speaking to the press.

Suu Kyi, who was ousted by an army takeover in February last year, could face up to 15 years in prison and a fine if convicted. She has denied the allegation that she had accepted gold and hundreds of thousands of dollars given her as a bribe by a top political colleague.

Since being forced from power in a coup last year, Nobel laureate Suu Kyi has been charged with offences ranging from incitement and graft to violations of electoral and state secrets laws, which carry combined maximum sentences of more than 150 years.

She has been found guilty of two lesser offences so far and sentenced to six years, in a series of trials that could last years, leaving little chance for a political comeback for the figurehead of the country's struggle against dictatorship.

According to a source familiar with the trial, the judge is set to decide on Monday on charges that Suu Kyi accepted bribes totalling $600,000 and 11.4 kg of gold from Phyo Min Thein, a former Yangon chief minister once seen as her future successor.

Phyo Min Thein, a protege of Suu Kyi, in October testified that he gave money and gold to her in exchange for her support. Suu Kyi has dismissed his allegations, which the junta aired separately on national television, as "absurd."

Suu Kyi, 76, is being held in an undisclosed location, without visitors. She denies all charges.

Journalists have been barred from attending the special court hearings in the military-built capital Naypyidaw and Suu Kyi's lawyers have been banned from speaking to the media.

Suu Kyi has already been handed a six-year sentence for violating Covid-19 rules and walkie-talkie import regulations -- likely excluding the popular leader from elections the junta has said it plans to hold by next year.

Under a previous junta regime, Suu Kyi spent long spells under house arrest at her family's colonial-era mansion in Yangon.

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 army seized power on Feb. 1, 2021, arresting Suu Kyi and many senior colleagues in her party and government.

The army claimed it acted because there had been massive electoral fraud, but independent election observers didn’t find any major irregularities.

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Published on: Tuesday, April 26, 2022, 02:42 PM IST