Junta convicts Aung San Suu Kyi of accepting bribes from former Yangon chief minister

Myanmar’s detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi was handed a five-year prison sentence on Wednesday for supposedly receiving bribes of cash and gold from Yangon’s former chief minister.  

It is the sixth charge for which the National League for Democracy (NLD) leader has been sentenced by the court in Naypyitaw since December, bringing her total sentence so far to 11 years. 

The 76-year-old is still on trial for 11 further charges that could see several more decades added to her sentence. 

Tuesday’s sentence was based on accusations made by former NLD chief minister for Yangon Phyo Min Thein, who said that he had given Suu Kyi US$600,000 in cash and 11.4kg of gold in exchange for favours for his businesses.  

Phyo Min Thein was once regarded as the man who would take over leadership of the party after Suu Kyi. 

Thein Oo, the justice minister for Myanmar’s underground National Unity Government, has suggested that Phyo Min Thein made the claims under duress. Suu Kyi described the accusations as “absurd” during a meeting with her lawyers in October. 

A source who is familiar with the trial told Myanmar Now that her lawyers were not provided with an opportunity to meet with Suu Kyi on Wednesday. 

Judge Myint San of the Mandalay High Court delivered the verdict at a special Naypyitaw court designated for the detained State Counsellor, according to the source.

“The court convened at 9:30am and the judge pronounced the verdict right away,” the individual said.

He added that the defence team plans to appeal the verdict at a higher court.  

“[Aung San Suu Kyi] said she was livid, and told [her lawyers] to appeal until the end,” he said.

The junta hit the deposed State Counsellor with a slew of charges after detaining her on the morning of last year’s coup in February. She has now been accused of a total of 17 offences, and has already been convicted of incitement, possessing illegally imported walkie-talkies, and breaching Covid-19 restrictions. 

Suu Kyi is being detained at an undisclosed location in Naypyitaw. The junta has gagged her lawyers in a bid to prevent updates about her case from reaching the public. 

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