Aung San Suu Kyi denies ‘incitement’ in first court testimony

Myanmar’s popularly-elected leader, who was removed by the military in a coup, faces multiple charges in closed-door proceedings.

Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi, who was removed from power in a coup, has denied charges of 'incitement' brought against her by the military [File: Nyein Chan Naing/EPA]

Aung San Suu Kyi, the popularly-elected leader of Myanmar who was removed by the military in a February 1 coup, has denied a charge of incitement to cause public alarm in her first testimony before a court since her arrest.

The generals, whose coup plunged Myanmar into turmoil, have brought numerous charges against the 76-year-old and she could face years in prison if found guilty.

On Tuesday, she denied a charge of incitement relating to two statements that her party published in February that condemned the military regime and called on international organisations not to work with them, Myanmar Now news agency reported.

Aung San Suu Kyi “was able to defend her innocence very well”, a member of her defence team, who requested anonymity, told the media outlet.

The lawyer refused to disclose further details because the military has barred her legal team from speaking to the media about her hearings.

The generals detained Aung San Suu Kyi and senior members of the civilian government hours before Myanmar’s new Parliament was due to sit following the general election in November.

The coup triggered nationwide protests and a mass civil disobedience movement, to which the military has responded with force. More than 1,000 people, including children, have been killed, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a rights group that has been tracking deaths and arrests since the coup.

Aung San Suu Kyi is facing 10 other charges, including illegally owning walkie-talkies, breaking coronavirus rules and violating the Official Secrets Act. Myanmar’s state media has not reported on developments in her case, and one of the only sources of public information on her trial – her lawyer, Khin Maung Zaw – received a gag order from the military authorities earlier this month.

That order came after Khin Maung Zaw reported that Myanmar’s deposed president Win Myint had testified in court that the military had tried to force him to relinquish power hours before the coup and warned him he could be seriously harmed if he refused.

Aung San Suu Kyi is being held at an undisclosed location and attended Tuesday’s hearings at a specially built court in Naypyidaw, the Southeast Asian country’s capital.

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters