Conflicts & War

Trial against Suu Kyi begins in Myanmar’s military-controlled court

Bangkok, June 14 (EFE).- The trial against Myanmar’s ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi began on Monday in the capital Naypyidaw with the military rulers pressing five charges against the Nobel peace laureate.

The trial began more than four months after Suu Kyi, 75, was arrested after the military seized power in a coup on Feb.1.

The National League for Democracy (NLD) party leader is accused of violating coronavirus restrictions during her campaigning for the November 2020 elections that she won but were annulled by the military over fraud allegations.

The military also accuses her of taking a bribe from Yangon’s former chief minister, having unlicensed imported telephone devices, and am intent to raise alarm and cause public unrest.

Her lawyer Khim Maung Zaw, in a statement, said the hearing that began around 10.30 am local time lasted for about five and a half hours.

The lawyer said Suu Kyi “did not seem to be feeling very well” during her presence in the court.

She faces up to 10 years in prison and disqualification from contesting polls if the court finds her guilty.

Human Rights Watch on Monday said it was “unlikely” that the trial against Suu Kyi would be fair and demanded her “immediate and unconditional release.”

Phil Robertson, the organization’s deputy director in Asia, criticized restrictions on having access to her lawyers and the trial taking place in a court controlled by the junta.

“The criminal charges against Aung San Suu Kyi are false and politically motivated to overturn her landslide electoral victory in the November 2020 elections and prevent her from running again. All of those charges should be dropped, leading to her immediate and unconditional release,” he said.

Suu Kyi, who spent more than 15 years under house arrest under the previous military junta, stands trial alongside former president Win Myint and former Naypyitaw Governor Myo Aung.

Win Myint, accused of various crimes by military rulers, was also present in the courtroom on Monday.

Suu Kyi has another trial pending in the Supreme Court for allegedly violating the Official Secrets Act, a crime punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

Her lawyers have denied all the charges against her.

Suu Kyi has been under arrest since the coup by General Min Aung Hlaing on Feb.1, when the military toppled an elected government and declared an emergency for one year.

The coup ended 10 years of democratic transition in the Buddhist-majority nation.

The coup sparked a civil disobedience movement and protests, drawing a brutal military response from the security forces against unarmed pro-democracy protesters, including children.

At least 863 people have died in the violence, figures from the monitoring group Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners show.

The group says that the military rulers have detained more than 5,800 people since the uprising.

The military rulers said they were forced to oust the government following alleged electoral fraud in the elections last November in which Suu Kyi’s party scored a landslide victory, as it did in 2015.

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