Aung San Suu Kyi on trial in new corruption case against ousted Myanmar leader | Burma

Myanmar’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi has gone on trial in a new corruption case against her, alleging she received $550,000 in bribes from a construction tycoon.

She is charged with two counts under the country’s anti-corruption law, each count carrying a sentence of up to 15 years in prison and a fine.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been detained since the military overthrew her elected government in February 2021 and has not been seen or allowed to speak in public since then. She is being tried behind closed doors and her lawyers cannot speak publicly on her behalf or about her trial due to a gag order imposed on them.

She has already been sentenced to 11 years in prison after being found guilty of illegally importing and possessing walkie-talkies, breaching coronavirus restrictions, sedition and another bribery charge.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s supporters and human rights groups say the lawsuits against her are an attempt to discredit her and legitimize the military’s takeover, eliminating the possibility of her participating in a possible election in 2023.

But widespread resistance to the military takeover has resulted in what some UN experts have called a civil war, challenging the military’s ability to govern. The start of Aung San Suu Kyi’s final trial on Monday was confirmed by a judicial official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to release information.

In the latter case, she is accused of receiving money in 2019 and 2020 from Maung Weik, a tycoon who had previously been convicted of drug trafficking. Last year, military government-controlled state television aired a video in which Maung Weik claimed to have made cash payments to government ministers to help his businesses.

Ye Htet, an Anti-Corruption Commission official who is a civil party in the case, testified in Monday’s proceedings, said the legal chief, who said payments made by Maung Weik in 2019 and 2020 were treated as separate counts.

The state-controlled Global New Light of Myanmar reported official accusations in February that Aung San Suu Kyi, in her capacity as state counselor – the country’s de facto chief executive – had received 550,000 dollars in four installments in 2019-2020 “to facilitate the business activities of a private entrepreneur.

Maung Weik, in his statements to state media last year, said he gave the money from 2018 to 2020. He said in his video that the money included $100,000 provided to Aung San Suu Kyi in 2018 for a charitable foundation named after her mother and also gave Aung San Suu Kyi $450,000 in payments from 2019 to 2020 for purposes he did not specify.

Under the government of Aung San Suu Kyi, Maung Weik won a major development project which included the construction of houses, restaurants, hospitals, economic zones, port and hotel areas in the central Mandalay region of Myanmar. .

Maung Weik, as chairman of a property development company, was close to some of the generals in power under a previous military government. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2008 for drug trafficking and was released in 2014 under a semi-democratic transitional government led by former generals. After his release, he resumed doing business with former generals.

In total, Aung San Suu Kyi has been charged with 12 counts of corruption. She was found guilty last week of a bribery charge and sentenced to five years in prison after being found guilty of receiving $600,000 and seven gold bars from Phyo Min Thein, the former chief minister of Yangon, the country’s largest city.

His lawyers are trying to overturn the verdict in an appeal to the Supreme Court on technical grounds, saying the case should not have been heard. If that is rejected, they can still make another appeal.

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