Myanmar junta adds three-year term to Suu Kyi’s prison time, bringing total to 26 years

Myanmar’s military council sentenced detained State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi to two three-year prison terms on Wednesday for corruption, to be served concurrently.

Judge Myint San of the Mandalay Region High Court delivered the verdict at a closed-door hearing inside the Naypyitaw Detention Centre, where the deposed civilian leader has been held in recent months.

The convictions are related to allegations against Suu Kyi made by businessman Maung Weik, who in video testimony recorded by the junta in March 2021 accused the State Counsellor of accepting more than US$550,000 in bribes on the four occasions they met between 2018 and 2020. 

Suu Kyi pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

“There was no one around when I gave her the money,” Maung Weik said in a statement disseminated by the military last year. 

However, at a hearing on May 31, he testified that he gave the funds in question to an official from the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation, a charity run by Suu Kyi and named after her late mother, according to a source in Naypyitaw who is familiar with the court proceedings.

He reportedly kneeled down in front of Suu Kyi after the hearing but the State Counsellor did not respond or react to the gesture, the source said.

The owner of the Say Paing construction and development company, Maung Weik was formerly imprisoned on drug charges. He served six years of a 15-year sentence, and was released in 2014 while Myanmar was led by the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party. 

He is known to have formed close relationships with members of the military’s inner circle, and to have operated a range of business enterprises through his connections to Myanmar’s generals. Maung Weik’s wife is also the niece of Myint Swe, the former military-appointed Vice President who the junta named as acting President following the February 2021 coup that ousted Suu Kyi’s elected National League for Democracy (NLD) government.

Suu Kyi, who turned 77 in June, has been in junta custody since the military’s attempted seizure of power. Prior to Wednesday’s ruling, she had been sentenced to 23 years’ imprisonment for 12 other convictions, bringing her total term to 26 years at the time of reporting.

The junta most recently found the State Counsellor and her Australian economic advisor Sean Turnell guilty of violating the colonial-era Official Secrets Act on September 29, for which they were both sentenced to three years. 

Among Suu Kyi’s earlier convictions under the military council were four for corruption, for which she was handed a six-year sentence. The military accused Suu Kyi of abusing her position as the NLD party leader to benefit the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation, as well as an affiliated project. 

At the time of reporting, she was still facing five more cases related to corruption allegations. 

(More on Aung San Suu Kyi )

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