Myanmar’s Suu Kyi risks six years in prison after new verdict source

  • Suu Kyi sentenced to four years in prison for three more charges
  • Charges include possession of unlicensed walkie-talkies
  • All of her charges could amount to over 100 years in prison
  • Junta critics say cases are designed to end her political career
  • The verdict is politically motivated, says the Nobel Committee

January 10 (Reuters) – A court in military-ruled Myanmar on Monday sentenced deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi to four years in prison on charges of, among other things, possession of unlicensed walkie-talkies, a source familiar with the case said.

The latest verdict in lawsuits that rights groups have criticized as a farce and a “courtroom circus” means she faces up to six years in prison after two convictions last month.

She has been indicted in nearly a dozen cases that have a combined maximum sentence of more than 100 years in prison. She denies all charges. Read more

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Nobel laureate Suu Kyi, 76, seemed calm as the verdict was read out in a court in the capital Naypyitaw on Monday, said another source with knowledge of the trial.

Suu Kyi was detained on the day of the February 1 coup, and days later police said six illegally imported walkie-talkies were found during a search of her home.

International human rights groups, the Norwegian Nobel Committee and the United States attacked the news, with US State Department spokesman Ned Price calling the verdicts “a violation of justice and the rule of law” and demanding the release of Suu Kyi and other political prisoners.

The court sentenced her to two years in prison for violating an export-import law by possessing the handheld radios and one year for having a set of signal jammers. The two verdicts will run simultaneously, the source said.

She was also sentenced to two years on another charge of violating a natural disaster management law related to the coronavirus rules, the source said.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the coup against Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government led to widespread protests and signaled the end of 10 years of tentative political reforms that followed decades of strict military rule.

On December 6, she received four years in prison for inciting and violating coronavirus rules.

The sentence, which was later reduced to two years, was met by a chorus of international condemnation.

The United States, along with other Western nations, has been imposing sanctions on Myanmar’s military and its companies since the coup.

Myanmar National League for Democracy Party Leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrives at a press conference at her home in Yangon on November 5, 2015. REUTERS / Jorge Silva / File Photo

Rights group Amnesty International said on Twitter on Monday that the new verdicts were “the latest act in the farcical lawsuit against the civilian leader.”

“The latest verdict against Aung San Suu Kyi is a politically motivated verdict. Aung San Suu Kyi continues to be the leading champion of democracy in Myanmar,” Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, told Reuters.

“The Nobel Committee is deeply concerned about her situation,” she added.

SECRET TRIAL

Suu Kyi’s supporters say the cases against her are unfounded and designed to end her political career and give the military the freedom to exercise power unhindered by any challenge.

The junta says Suu Kyi will receive a fair trial by an independent court headed by a judge appointed by her own administration. A spokesman for the military council could not be immediately reached for comment.

Her trial has been closed to the media, and Suu Kyi’s lawyers have been barred from communicating with the media and the public.

The military has not revealed where Suu Kyi, who spent years under house arrest under a former military government, is being held.

“The Myanmar junta’s circus of undercover false accusations is about steadily picking up more convictions … so she will remain in jail indefinitely,” Phil Robertson, Asia’s deputy director for Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

In some recent court hearings, Suu Kyi has been wearing a white top and a brown wrap-round longyi, which is typically worn by Myanmar prisoners, sources have said.

Military ruler Min Aung Hlaing said last month that Suu Kyi and ousted President Win Myint would remain in the same place during their trials and would not be sent to prison.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen did not seek to meet with Suu Kyi during a visit to the country last week for talks with its military officials. Read more

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Reporting by Reuters Staff Writing by Ed Davies Editing by Martin Petty, Robert Birsel, William Maclean

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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