A Myanmar junta court on Monday, Jan. 10 is expected to deliver verdicts on ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi in several delayed cases, the latest in a slew of judgments that could see her jailed for decades.
The Nobel laureate has been detained since Feb. 1, 2021, when her government was forced out in an early morning coup, ending Myanmar’s short-lived experiment with democracy.
The generals’ power grab triggered widespread dissent, which security forces sought to quell with mass detentions and bloody crackdowns in which more than 1,400 civilians have been killed, according to a local monitoring group.
Suu Kyi, 76, is facing a catalog of accusations, and on Monday is set to hear the verdicts for allegedly importing and possessing walkies-talkies illegally, and for breaking coronavirus rules.
The walkie-talkie charges stem from when soldiers raided her house on the day of the coup, allegedly discovering the contraband equipment.
But under cross-examination in court hearings, members of the raiding party admitted they had not possessed a warrant for the raid, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.
Verdicts for these cases have been repeatedly delayed.
If found guilty on Monday, Suu Kyi faces a maximum of six years in prison.
It will add to penalties the court gave her in December when she was jailed for four years for incitement and breaching COVID-19 rules while campaigning.
Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing cut the sentence to two years and said she could serve her term under house arrest in the capital Naypyidaw.
December's ruling drew international condemnation, and the Myanmar public reverted to old protesting tactics of banging pots and pans in a show of anger.
Manny Maung, a Human Rights Watch researcher, said another conviction Monday would deepen nationwide discontent.
“The announcement of her last conviction resulted in one of the highest days of social media interactions from inside Myanmar, and deeply angered the public,” she told AFP.
“The military is calculating this (the cases) as a fear tactic but it only serves to direct more anger from the public.”
Journalists have been barred from attending hearings, and Suu Kyi's lawyers have been muzzled from speaking to the media.
Under a previous junta regime, Suu Kyi spent long spells of house arrest in her family mansion in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city.
Today, she is confined to an undisclosed location in the capital, with her link to the outside world limited to brief pre-trial meetings with her lawyers.
Besides Monday’s cases, she is also facing multiple counts of corruption, each of which is punishable by 15 years in jail, and of violating the official secrets act.
In November, she and 15 other officials, including Myanmar’s president Win Myint, were also charged with alleged electoral fraud during the 2020 elections.
Her National League for Democracy party had swept the polls in a landslide, trouncing a military-aligned party by a wider margin than the previous 2015 election.
Since the coup, many of her political allies have been arrested, with one chief minister sentenced to 75 years in jail, while others are in hiding. (AFP)