Election fraud charges against NLD leaders to be ruled on within six months, junta court says

A judge in the Dekkhina District Court in Naypyitaw said on Monday that an electoral fraud case against President Win Myint, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and Union Government Office minister Min Thu will be concluded within the first 180 days of 2022. 

The charge—of violating Section 130a of the Penal Code—was filed by the junta against the three National League for Democracy (NLD) leaders, whose elected administration was ousted in a coup one year ago. The allegation, of unfairly influencing the election commission in the 2020 general election, carries a prison sentence of up to three years if convicted. 

Suu Kyi, Win Myint and Min Thu will stand trial together, according to a source close to the court.

Lawyer Khin Maung Zaw, whose legal team has been assisting with other cases against the President and State Counsellor, are reportedly also working on the fraud charge. However, the junta has barred the defence lawyers from disclosing information about the cases to the media. 

The source said that attorney Lwin May Thein—Min Thu’s wife—would represent her husband at his hearings. 

The military council’s allegation of voter fraud is based on the reported discovery of 2,000 double votes, found after one year of investigation. Some 75 percent of Myanmar’s more than 37m registered voters participated in the 2020 general election, according to the International Foundation for Electoral Systems. 

However, the junta has vowed to take legal action for the alleged fraud against several NLD leaders and party members, as well as the more than 420 members of the previous Union Election Commission and nearly 2,500 members of local election commissions. 

The State Counsellor, President and government office minister are facing other charges in addition to those concerning election fraud.

Min Thu has been charged with corruption under Section 55 of the Penal Code, which carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years. He is accused of accepting 30m kyat (nearly US$17,000) worth of NLD t-shirts and backpacks from a business owner during the party’s rallies in the lead-up to the 2020 general election. 

Win Myint is facing five corruption charges regarding the rental and the purchase of helicopters for disaster relief during the NLD’s administration.

Suu Kyi has been hit with a total of 17 charges and has already been sentenced to six years in prison for five convictions. 

Win Myint was initially sentenced to four years in prison, along with Suu Kyi, for incitement and disaster management charges, but the sentence was reduced to half on the same day it was handed down. 

Neither the State Counsellor nor the President have been transferred to prison and are being held in an undisclosed location. Their hearings are being held weekly at a specially designated court inside Naypyitaw Council ward. 

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