Myanmar’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi and former President Win Myint pleaded not guilty on Monday for violating COVID-19 restrictions, their lawyers said, after the military seized power. The pair were formally charged.
Two charges each were made under the Disaster Management Act for failing to comply with pandemic restrictions during last year’s general election campaign. Each count carries a prison sentence of up to three years.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won a landslide victory in last November’s election, but when the military seized power on February 1, she was unable to seek a second five-year term in office. Suu Kyi remained prominent members of her government and party. to arrest.
The military said it acted because of widespread voter fraud, a claim for which it offered little evidence. The takeover met widespread popular resistance, which continues despite deadly repressive measures by security forces.
A special court in the capital, Naipitaw, is suing Suu Kyi for illegally importing walkie-talkies and unlicensed use of radios, as well as incitement to spread false or inflammatory information that could disturb public order. Suu Kyi, Vin Myint and former Napitaw mayor Myo Aung pleaded not guilty to incitement late last month, and are expected to be charged in connection with the radio next week.
An indictment allows a trial to proceed to another stage, when the court hears the prosecution’s case and determines that it has merit. After that the defense can present its side.
Suu Kyi’s supporters and independent analysts say the allegations are an attempt to defame her and legitimize the military’s capture of power.
Suu Kyi also faced charges of corruption in a separate trial that started recently, a crime that carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison. He will soon be prosecuted for violating the Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum term of 14 years.
In Monday’s court session, the judge rejected 76-year-old Suu Kyi’s request for a hearing every two weeks instead of weekly. Suu Kyi said this would reduce the pressure on his health from several scheduled court appearances.
“She is getting tired of weekly appointments. Lawyers are tired too. That’s why it is recommended to do it once every two weeks. But the judge did not allow it,” said lawyer Ki Vin.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk / Aung San Suu Kyi