Court in Myanmar again finds Suu Kyi guilty of corruption

Dec 29, 2022, 7:37 AM | Updated: Dec 30, 2022, 8:51 am
FILE - Then Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi waits to address judges of the International Court of...

FILE - Then Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi waits to address judges of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, Dec. 11, 2019. On Dec. 30, 2022, the court in army-ruled Myanmar convicted Aung San Suu Kyi on more corruption charges, adding 7 years to her prison term. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

(AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

BANGKOK (AP) — A court in military-ruled Myanmar convicted the country’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi of corruption Friday, sentencing her to seven years in prison in the last of a string of criminal cases against her, a legal official said.

The court’s action leaves her with a total of 33 years to serve in prison after a series of politically tinged prosecutions since the army toppled her elected government in February 2021.

The case that ended Friday involved five offenses under the anti-corruption law and followed earlier convictions on seven other corruption counts, each of which was punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine.

The 77-year-old Suu Kyi has also been convicted of several other offenses, including illegally importing and possessing walkie-talkies, violating coronavirus restrictions, breaching the country’s official secrets act, sedition and election fraud.

Her previous convictions had landed her with a total of 26 years’ imprisonment.

Suu Kyi’s supporters and independent analysts say the numerous charges against her and her allies are an attempt to legitimize the military’s seizure of power while eliminating her from politics before an election it has promised for 2023.

In the five counts of corruption decided Friday, Suu Kyi was alleged to have abused her position and caused a loss of state funds by neglecting to follow financial regulations in granting permission to Win Myat Aye, a Cabinet member in her former government, to hire, buy and maintain a helicopter.

Suu Kyi was the de facto head of government, holding the title of state counsellor. Win Myint, who was president in her government, was a co-defendant in the same case.

Friday’s verdict, delivered on the outskirts of the capital Naypyitaw, was made known by a legal official who insisted on anonymity for fear of being punished by the authorities. The trial was closed to the media, diplomats and spectators, and her lawyers were barred by a gag order from talking about it.

The legal official said Suu Kyi received sentences of three years for each of four charges, to be served concurrently, and four years for the charge related to the helicopter purchase, for a total of seven years. Win Myint received the same sentences.

Win Myat Aye, at the center of the case, escaped arrest and is now Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management in the National Unity Government, established by the military’s opponents as a parallel administration by elected legislators who were barred from taking their seats when the army seized power last year. The military has declared NUG to be an outlawed “terrorist organization.”

The defendants denied all charges, and her lawyers are expected to appeal in the coming days. The official also said both Suu Kyi and Win Myint appeared to be in good health.

Cases against Suu Kyi were manufactured and court verdicts predetermined by the military, Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said in an emailed statement.

“Due process and a free and fair trial were never remotely possible under the circumstances of this political persecution against her,” he added.

The end of the court cases against Suu Kyi, at least for now, raises the possibility that she would be allowed outside visitors, which she has been denied since she was detained.

Myanmar’s military rulers, who have faced diplomatic and political sanctions for their human rights abuses and suppression of democracy, have repeatedly denied all requests to meet with her, including from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which seeks to help mediate an end to the crisis in Myanmar that some United Nations experts have characterized as a civil war because of the armed opposition to military rule.

An August statement from the military government said that, “depending on the circumstances after the completion of the judiciary process, we will consider how to proceed.”

Due to her age, the 33 years in prison that Suu Kyi now faces “amount to an effective life sentence against her,” said Robertson, adding that the convictions were aimed at keeping her out of politics and undermining her party’s landslide 2020 election victory.

Nay Phone Latt, a spokesperson for the National Unity Government opposition group, charged Myanmar’s judiciary with being “completely unjust.”

He said in a online message that the ruling military council might release Suu Kyi and other prisoners or make similar gestures if it is necessary for their own interests, but revolutionary forces would move forward without losing sight of their goal of a democratic federal union without the involvement of the military.

Suu Kyi is being held in a newly constructed separate building in the prison in Naypyitaw, near the courthouse where her trial was held, with three policewomen whose duty is to assist her.

Suu Kyi, the daughter of Myanmar’s martyred independence hero Gen. Aung San, spent almost 15 years as a political prisoner under house arrest between 1989 and 2010.

Her tough stand against the military rule in Myanmar turned her into a symbol of nonviolent struggle for democracy, and won her the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize.

Her National League for Democracy party initially came to power after easily winning the 2015 general election, ushering in a true civilian government for the first time since a 1962 military coup.

But after coming to power, Suu Kyi was criticized for showing deference to the military while ignoring atrocities it is credibly accused of committing in a 2017 crackdown on the Muslim Rohingya minority.

Her National League for Democracy won a landslide victory again in the 2020 election, but less than three months afterwards, elected lawmakers were kept from taking their seats in Parliament and top members of her government and party were detained.

The army said it acted because there had been massive voting fraud in the 2020 election, but independent election observers did not find any major irregularities.

The army’s takeover in 2021 triggered widespread peaceful protests that security forces tried to crush with deadly forces and that soon erupted into armed resistance.

Myanmar security forces have killed at least 2,685 civilians and arrested 16,651, according to a detailed list compiled by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a non-governmental organization that tracks killings and arrests.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - People walk amongst the debris at the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Gr...
Associated Press

International team to present update on MH17 investigation

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — An international team is presenting an update Wednesday on its investigation into the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine. The announcement comes nearly three months after a Dutch court convicted two Russians and a Ukrainian rebel for their roles in shooting down the Boeing 777 and […]
1 day ago
President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U...
Associated Press

China says it was smeared in Biden State of the Union speech

BEIJING (AP) — China says it was smeared in U.S. President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address that repeatedly mentioned competition between the two countries. China does not fear competing with the U.S. but is “opposed to defining the entire China-U.S. relationship in terms of competition,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a […]
1 day ago
FILE - A sign is shown on a Google building at their campus in Mountain View, Calif., Sept. 24, 201...
Associated Press

Google hopes ‘Bard’ will outsmart ChatGPT, Microsoft in AI

Google is girding for a battle of wits in the field of artificial intelligence with “Bard," a conversational service apparently aimed at countering the popularity of the ChatGPT tool backed by Microsoft.
1 day ago
South Korean Interior and Safety Minister Lee Sang-min arrives to attend a meeting on integrated de...
Associated Press

South Korean lawmakers impeach minister over crowd crush

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s opposition-controlled parliament on Wednesday voted to impeach the country’s interior and safety minister, Lee Sang-min, holding him responsible for government failures in disaster planning and the response that likely contributed to the high death toll in a crowd crush that killed nearly 160 people in October. The impeachment […]
1 day ago
A sign stands on a quiet day in what used to be AmericaÅfs largest overseas naval base at the Subi...
Associated Press

US forces returning to Philippines to counter China threats

SUBIC BAY, Philippines (AP) — Once-secret ammunition bunkers and barracks lay abandoned, empty and overrun by weeds — vestiges of American firepower in what used to be the United States’ largest overseas naval base at Subic Bay in the northern Philippines. But that may change in the near future. The U.S. has been taking steps […]
1 day ago
Sri Lankan president Ranil Wickremesinghe, left, arrives at the parliament to deliver his policy sp...
Associated Press

Sri Lankan leader appeals for patience amid economic crisis

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka’s president on Wednesday appealed for patience amid the country’s worst economic crisis but promised brighter times ahead. President Ranil Wickremesinghe said in a policy speech after inaugurating a new parliamentary session that he had been forced to make unpopular decisions to salvage the country’s finances, including by implementing […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Court in Myanmar again finds Suu Kyi guilty of corruption