Myanmar military court delays verdict in Aung San Suu Kyi trial

Nobel laureate has been detained since the military overthrew the democratically elected government last year.

Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi meets with the media
Aung San Suu Kyi, 76, faces decades in prison if convicted on all counts [File: Lyn Bo Bo/EPA]

A military court in Myanmar has delayed giving its first verdict in the corruption trial of overthrown leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose elected government was removed in a February 2021 coup.

The 76-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner has been detained since the generals’ power grab put an end to the country’s brief period of democracy.

She has since been hit with a series of charges, including violating the official secrets act, corruption and electoral fraud. She faces decades in prison if convicted on all counts.

“There was no verdict today” in the corruption trial in which Suu Kyi is accused of accepting a bribe of $600,000 in cash and gold bars from the former chief minister of Yangon, Zaw Min Tun, a spokesman for the military government was quoted as saying by AFP news agency on Monday.

He did not give any details on when a verdict would be reached in the case, which could see Aung San Suu Kyi jailed for 15 years or longer. She is facing a total of 10 corruption charges, each with a possible 15-year jail term.

Journalists have been barred from attending the special court hearings in the capital, Naypyidaw. Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyers have also been banned from speaking to the media.

She has already been sentenced to six years in jail for incitement against the military, breaching COVID-19 rules and breaking a telecommunications law – although she will remain under house arrest while she fights other charges.

That likely excludes the popular leader from elections the military government said it plans to hold by next year.

Al Jazeera’s Florence Looi, who has extensively covered events in Myanmar, said a guilty verdict, like in the previous trials, was widely expected.

“This case carries a much heavier sentence than the other cases she is facing. The other trials that have gone on against her were for relatively minor offences, with much shorter maximum prison terms,” Looi said.

Under a previous military government, Aung San Suu Kyi spent long spells under house arrest at her family’s colonial-era mansion in Yangon.

Since the February 1, 2021 coup, many members of her National League for Democracy, which trounced a military-backed party in 2020 elections, have been arrested, with one chief minister sentenced to 75 years in jail.

More than 13,000 people have also been arrested and 1,700 killed by the military, according to the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners, an activist group.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies