Myanmar’s Suu Kyi was sentenced to 5 years in prison for corruption 2022-04-27 01:23:00

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  • It’s unclear if Suu Kyi will be sent to prison
  • The judge did not provide any explanation for the decision – source
  • The charges carry a combined prison sentence of nearly 190 years
  • The former leader was convicted of accepting cash bribes of gold
  • Suu Kyi’s allies reject the ruling and say the junta’s rule will not last

(Reuters) – A court in military-ruled Myanmar on Wednesday sentenced ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi to five years in prison after convicting her in the first 11 corruption cases against her, a source familiar with the matter said.

The Nobel laureate and the figurehead of Myanmar’s opposition to military rule have been charged with at least 18 offenses with prison sentences of nearly 190 years, all of which eliminate any chance of political return.

The source, who requested anonymity because the trial is being held behind closed doors, with information being restricted, said the judge in the capital, Naypyitaw, issued the ruling within moments of the court session and did not provide any explanation.

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The source said Suu Kyi, who attended all the hearings, was not satisfied with the outcome and would appeal.

The 76-year-old led Myanmar for five years during a short period of temporary democracy before he was driven from power in a coup in February 2021 by the military that has ruled the former British colony for five of the past six decades.

It was not immediately clear if she would be transferred to a prison to serve her sentence.

Since her arrest, she has been held at an unknown location, where junta chief Min Aung Hlaing previously said she could remain after previous convictions in December and January of relatively minor crimes, for which she was sentenced to a total of six years in prison.

A spokesman for the military government could not be reached for comment.

The latest case centered on allegations that Suu Kyi accepted 11.4 kg (402 ounces) of gold and cash payments totaling $600,000 from lawyer-turned-accused, former Yangon City Chief Minister Phyo Min Thein.

Suu Kyi described the allegations as “ridiculous” and denies all charges against her, which include violations of election laws, state secrets laws, incitement and corruption.

Phil Robertson, deputy director of the Asia division at Human Rights Watch, said Suu Kyi’s days as a free woman are already over.

“Myanmar’s military junta and the country’s kangaroo courts are steadily moving forward to remove Aung San Suu Kyi from what may ultimately be the equivalent of a life sentence, given her advanced age,” he said.

“Destroying Myanmar’s People’s Democracy also means getting rid of Aung San Suu Kyi, and the junta leaves nothing to chance.”

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the coup, with the military quelling nationwide protests and popular anger with deadly force. Tens of thousands have been arrested, many killed, tortured and beaten, in what the United Nations has described as crimes against humanity.

The international community imposed sanctions on the military and dismissed Suu Kyi’s trials as farcical. The US and British embassies in Myanmar did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The military said Suu Kyi has committed crimes and is subject to due process by an independent judiciary, dismissing foreign criticism as interference.

The military council refused to allow her visits, including a special envoy from Southeast Asia trying to end the crisis.

Nay Phon Lat, a former official of the ousted ruling Suu Kyi Party, said the court’s decisions are temporary, as the military rule will not last long.

“We don’t recognize the rulings of the terrorist military council, its legislation or the judiciary,” said Nai Phon Lat, a member of the shadow government of national unity, which has declared a popular revolution against military rule.

“I don’t care how long they want to rule, whether it’s one year or two years or whatever they want. It’s not going to last.”

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Reporting by Reuters staff. Written by Martin Petty; Editing by Ed Davies, Robert Percell

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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