Myanmar sets October 1 for Aung San Suu Kyi corruption trial

Deposed civilian leader’s supporters say charges against her are politically motivated and an attempt to discredit her.

Myanmar deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government was overthrown by an army takeover in February [File: Franck Robichon/Pool via Reuters]

A trial of Myanmar’s deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on corruption charges is set to begin on October 1, a member of her legal team has said.

Lawyer Khin Maung Zaw said on Friday a judge declared the trial would be held at the Special Court in the capital, Naypyidaw, on every other Friday.

He announced the decision after presentations in the court by Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyers and prosecutors from the central city of Mandalay, where the charges were originally lodged.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been under house arrest since her National League for Democracy (NLD) government was deposed by the military in a February coup that sparked a mass uprising and a brutal crackdown on dissent. She is currently being tried on other charges by the Special Court.

Images of Aung San Suu Kyi displayed during a protest against the military coup in Yangon on March 18 [File: EPA]

In the continuing trial, she faces charges of sedition, two counts of flouting COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, illegally importing walkie-talkies that were for her bodyguards’ use and the unlicensed use of the radios.

She also is due to be tried for breaching the official secrets law in a case that was transferred earlier this week to Naypyidaw from Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city.

Her lawyers deny any wrongdoing.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s supporters as well as independent analysts say all the charges against her are politically motivated and an attempt to discredit her and legitimise the military’s seizure of power while keeping her from returning to politics.

A nationwide anti-coup uprising and continuing unrest have paralysed the country.

More than 1,100 people have been killed and some 8,000 arrested, according to a local monitoring group. The military says the toll is much lower.

Military ruler Senior General Min Aung Hlaing said last month that elections would be held and a state of emergency lifted by August 2023, extending an initial one-year timeline announced days after the February 1 coup.

Facing 5 corruption cases

Aung San Suu Kyi, 76, has been charged in five cases under the anti-corruption law – four by the Mandalay Region High Court that will now be tried in Naypyidaw, and one by the Yangon Region High Court.

The Mandalay cases include two under Section 55 of the law, which states that a political post-holder convicted of corruption is liable to up to 15 years’ imprisonment and a fine.

In the other two Mandalay cases, Aung San Suu Kyi was named a co-defendant with political colleagues, including former Naypyidaw Mayor Myo Aung, under Section 63 for allegedly conspiring to carry out corruption. It carries the same penalty.

Details have not been officially released about the Yangon case, for which a trial date has not yet been set.

A photo taken on May 24 showing detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and detained President Win Myint (right) during their first court appearance in Naypyidaw [File: Myanmar Ministry of Information/AFP]
Source: News Agencies