State Counsellor’s next court session under junta to be held in-person, lawyer says

After three months of video conference court sessions pertaining to the junta’s charges against ousted State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, the regime is planning to hold a hearing near her residence in Naypyitaw, according to her lawyer.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been under house arrest since February 1, when the military seized power from the elected civilian government in a coup.

“It is still not clear how she will be tried but it will no longer be via video link. We will be able to see her in person at the court hearing,” Suu Kyi’s lawyer Min Min Soe said. 

Suu Kyi, who is 75, faces a total of six charges; five in Naypyitaw and one in Yangon, and a prison sentence of up to 26 years.

She has been accused of violating the Official Secrets Act, of importing walkie-talkies in violation of the Export and Import Law, of incitement, and of violating the Telecommunications Law.

The regime also hit Suu Kyi with two charges of violating Covid-19 protocols while campaigning for the 2020 general election.

Min Min Soe said the judge at the Zabuthiri Township court informed her of the arrangement at the State Counsellor’s sixth hearing on Monday, citing a Supreme Court directive dated May 7. 

However, the lawyer added that she was not sure if observers would be allowed to attend the upcoming session, which is scheduled for May 24.

Suu Kyi has not been allowed to meet with her lawyers in person during her detention. 

Min Min Soe noted that at Monday’s hearing, the State Counsellor appeared healthy.

“Aung San Suu Kyi asked the judge twice for permission to meet with her lawyer at the hearing today,” Min Min Soe said.

The judge responded to Suu Kyi that the court would try her in person at the next hearing and that her request would be resolved, according to lawyer Min Min Soe.

Suu Kyi was not satisfied with the judge’s response, describing it as an unclear answer, the lawyer said. 

The judge asked the police official who was present at the hearing for comment, but he responded that it would proceed as soon as possible, Min Min Soe said.

“We will be able to discuss how to work on her defence and move ahead with the lawsuit only after we meet with the accused,” the lawyer said.

The military council’s spokesperson, Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun, was quoted by the Russian state-owned news agency RIA in late April as saying that, for the time being, the junta had decided to bar Suu Kyi from meeting her lawyers in person. 

The move was made out of concern for national security and the Covid-19 pandemic, Zaw Min Tun said. He also said that the military had received information that protest leaders had planned to contact Suu Kyi through her lawyers. 

“Behind her lawyers’ demands there could be other reasons. They might conduct illegal communications and ask for her direction [regarding the protests],” Zaw Min Tun said in the interview.


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