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Trial of Myanmar’s Suu Kyi enters final phase

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A junta court will hear the final arguments in the 18-month-long trial of Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi next week, a legal source said Tuesday, before reaching its final verdicts against the Nobel laureate.

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 junta court has found her guilty on every one of the 14 charges it has heard so far, including corruption, illegally possessing walkie-talkies and flouting Covid restrictions, and jailed her for 26 years.

Rights groups have slammed the trial as a sham and designed to remove the democracy figurehead permanently from Myanmar’s political scene.

Lawyers from both sides will make “final arguments” relating to five remaining charges of corruption on December 26, 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.

 

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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.

Suu Kyi, 77, appeared in good health, the source said.

– Turmoil –
Since the coup, Suu Kyi 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.

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

More than 2,500 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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