BANGKOK (AP) — A court in military-ruled Myanmar convicted the country’s ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, on more corruption charges on Monday, adding six years to her earlier 11-year prison sentence, a legal official said.
The trial was held behind closed doors, with no access for media or the public, and her lawyers were forbidden by a gag order from revealing information about the proceedings.
In the four corruption cases decided Monday, Suu Kyi was alleged to have abused her position to rent public land at below-market prices and to have built a residence with donations meant for charitable purposes. She received sentences of three years for each of the four counts, but the sentences for three of them will be served concurrently, giving her a total of six more years in prison.
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 the military holds an election it has promised for next year.
Suu Kyi and her co-defendants have denied all the allegations and their lawyers are expected to file appeals in the coming days, said the legal official, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to release information and feared punishment by the authorities.
Other top members of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party and her government have also been arrested and imprisoned, and the authorities have suggested they might dissolve the party before the next election.
The army seized power and detained Suu Kyi on Feb. 1, 2021, the day when her party would have started a second five-year term in office after it won a landslide victory in a November 2020 general election. The army said it acted because there had been massive voting fraud, but independent election observers did not find any major irregularities.
The army’s takeover sparked peaceful nationwide street protests that security forces quashed with lethal force, triggering armed resistance that some U.N. experts now characterize as civil war. The military government has been accused of human rights abuses including arbitrary arrests and killings, torture, and military sweeps that include air attacks on civilians and the burning of entire villages.
Suu Kyi has been charged with a total of 11 counts under the Anti-Corruption Act, with each count punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine.
In Monday’s verdicts, the legal official said Suu Kyi received a three-year prison sentence for building a residence for herself in Naypyitaw, allegedly with money donated for a charitable foundation named after her mother that she chaired.
The two other cases decided Monday involved parcels of land in Naypyitaw for which she allegedly abused her authority to rent at below market prices for the foundation. She received a sentence of three years for each of those cases.
The three cases pertaining to offenses in Naypyitaw are to be served concurrently.
The former mayor of Naypyitaw, Myo Aung, was a co-defendant in both cases relating to granting permits to rent the land. Ye Min Oo, the former vice mayor, is a co-defendant in one case and Min Thu, a former member of the Naypyitaw Development Committee, in the other. Each received sentences of three years.
The government Anti-Corruption Commission, which filed the case, had alleged that the rental fees agreed upon by the Naypyitaw Development Committee were lower than the rate fixed by the Ministry of Planning and Finance, so that the rental agreement deprived the state of revenue it should have received.
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