NAYPYIDAW: A Myanmar junta court yesterday postponed giving a verdict in the incitement trial of deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the first judgement from her many cases that could see her jailed for decades. The Nobel laureate has been detained since the generals ousted her government in the early hours of February 1, ending the Southeast Asian country’s brief democratic interlude. More than 1,200 people have been killed and over 10,000 arrested in a crackdown on dissent, according to a local monitoring group.
The court, which had been due to rule on her trial for incitement against the military-a charge that carries a three-year prison term-adjourned the verdict “until December 6,” said a source with knowledge of the case. Journalists have been barred from proceedings in the special court in the military-built capital Naypyidaw and Suu Kyi’s lawyers were recently banned from speaking to the media. There was a heavy security presence on the streets leading to the special court in the capital Naypyidaw yesterday morning, an AFP correspondent said. The courtroom will remain off-limits to reporters for the verdict, junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun recently told AFP.
Catalogue of charges
Days after the coup Suu Kyi was hit with obscure charges for possessing unlicensed walkie-talkies, and for violating coronavirus restrictions during elections her National League for Democracy (NLD) won in 2020. The junta has since added a slew of other indictments, including violating the official secrets act, corruption and electoral fraud. Suu Kyi’s long spells of house arrest under a previous junta were spent at her family’s colonial-era mansion in Yangon, where she would appear before thousands gathered on the other side of her garden fence.
Min Aung Hlaing’s regime has confined her to an undisclosed location in the capital, with her link to the outside world limited to brief pre-trial meetings with her lawyers. In recent weeks, the trials of other ranking members of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy have wrapped up, with the junta doling out harsh sentences.
A former chief minister was sentenced to 75 years in jail earlier this month, while a close Suu Kyi aide was jailed for 20. The military, which has dominated life in Myanmar for decades, has defended its power grab, citing fraud allegations in last year’s general election, which Suu Kyi’s party won comfortably. International pressure on the junta to restore democracy swiftly has shown no sign of knocking the generals off course. – AFP