Suu Kyi lawyers set to make final arguments in junta trial

File image of Aung San Suu Kyi. AFP File

Yangon: A Myanmar junta court is expected to hear closing arguments for the last remaining charges against jailed democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday, after the UN Security Council called for her release.

Suu Kyi has been a prisoner since the military toppled her government in February 2021, ending the Southeast Asian nation’s brief period of democracy.

The Nobel laureate, 77, has already been found guilty on 14 charges ranging from corruption to illegally importing walkie-talkies and breaching the official secrets act.

Rights groups have slammed the trial as a sham, and on Wednesday the UN Security Council called on the junta to release Suu Kyi in its first ever resolution on the situation in Myanmar since the coup.

The resolution marked a moment of relative Council unity after permanent members and close junta allies China and Russia abstained, opting not to wield vetoes following amendments to the wording.

Suu Kyi’s legal team and junta lawyers are due to make final arguments relating to five remaining charges of corruption on Monday, according to a source with knowledge of the case.

The verdict will be given “after that stage”, the source said, adding a date had not yet been set.

Verdicts in Suu Kyi’s previous trials have typically come days after final arguments.

Each corruption charge carries a maximum jail term of 15 years. In previous corruption cases, the court has generally sentenced Suu Kyi to three years per charge.

Disappeared

Suu Kyi is currently imprisoned in a compound in the capital Naypyidaw, close to the courthouse where her trial is being held, and has been deprived of her household staff and pet dog Taichido.

Since the coup, she has largely disappeared from view, seen only in grainy state media photos from the bare courtroom.

The country has plunged into turmoil, with some established ethnic rebel groups renewing fighting with the military in border areas and the economy in tatters.

Dozens of “People’s Defence Forces” eschewing Suu Kyi’s strict policy of non-violence have also sprung up to battle the junta and have surprised the military with their effectiveness, analysts say.

There are almost daily killings of low-level junta officials or anti-coup fighters, with details murky and reprisals often following quickly.

Analysts say the junta may allow Suu Kyi to serve some of her sentence under house arrest while it prepares for elections it has said it will hold next year.

The military alleged widespread voter fraud during 2020 elections won resoundingly by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, although international observers said the poll was largely free and fair.

More than 2,600 people have been killed in the military’s crackdown on dissent, according to a local monitoring group.

Rights groups have accused the military of extrajudicial killings and launching air strikes on civilians that amount to war crimes.

The latest civilian death toll issued by the junta stands at over 4,000.

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