Myanmar: Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial to begin next week

Deposed leader faces string of criminal charges, including possessing unlicensed walkie-talkies and violating a state secrets law.

People protesting against the Myanmar military hold a picture of Aung San Suu Kyi at a candlelight vigil at a Buddhist temple in Bangkok, Thailand, March 28, 2021 [Jorge Silva/ Reuters]

The trial of Myanmar’s deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi will begin next week, her lawyer said, with the Nobel laureate facing a raft of criminal charges including possessing unlicensed walkie-talkies and flouting coronavirus restrictions.

Her trial will start on June 14 and is expected to wrap up by July 26, her legal team told the AFP news agency on Monday.

Myanmar has been in chaos since the military seized power on February 1 and detained Aung San Suu Kyi and other elected leaders.

But the military has failed to impose control, with the takeover triggering near-daily protests and a nationwide civil disobedience movement. At least 849 people have been killed and 4,500 others detained.

Aung San Suu Kyi, 75, has meanwhile been held under house arrest in Myanmar’s capital, Naypyidaw, and appeared in public for the first time on May 24 when she attended a 30-minute court hearing.

Her lawyers have been allowed to meet with her just twice since she was placed under house arrest, with weeks of delays to her legal case.

“We will get testimonies from plaintiffs and witnesses starting from the next hearing,” lawyer Min Min Soe told AFP on Monday after meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi in Naypyidaw.

The most serious of the charges she faces includes claims that she violated the country’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

Aung San Suu Kyi “asked all (people) to stay in good health”, Min Min Soe added.

ASEAN urges military to free prisoners

The deposed leader spent more than 15 years under house arrest during the previous military rule before her 2010 release and rise to power in elections held five years later.

Coup leader Min Aung Hlaing has justified his power grab by alleging electoral fraud in the November poll, which Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won in a landslide.

The military has previously said it would hold fresh elections within two years but has also threatened to dissolve the NLD.

Envoys from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) met Min Aung Hlaing on Friday and urged the coup leader to free all political prisoners, according to a statement from the regional bloc.

Dated June 5, the statement said the envoys “called for the release of all political prisoners, including women and children and foreigners”.

ASEAN’s envoys also discussed implementing a “Five-Point Consensus” reached during talks between the senior general and the Southeast Asian leaders during talks in April.

The consensus calls for an end to violence, political talks and the naming of a regional special envoy.

Myanmar’s crisis is also expected to be a topic at a special ASEAN-China foreign ministers meeting in Chongqing this week. The military foreign minister, Wunna Maung Lwin, will also attend.

China’s ambassador met Min Aung Hlaing on Saturday.

China’s state-run Global Times newspaper quoted the coup leader as saying Myanmar was willing to coordinate the implementation of the consensus. It reported that the ambassador had said China was ready to support implementing the consensus.

Source: News Agencies