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Myanmar deposed leader bags 4yrs jail term for public incitement

By News Desk

A court in military-ruled Myanmar has sentenced deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi to four years imprisonment on charges of incitement and breaching coronavirus restrictions.

Aside from Suu Kyi, President Win Myint was also sentenced to four years in prison as the court delivered its first verdicts in numerous cases against the deposed leader and other civilian leaders detained by the military in a coup on Feb. 1 in a secret court proceeding on Monday.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the coup against Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government sparked widespread protests and raised international concern about the end of tentative political reforms following decades of military rule.

Nobel peace prize winner Suu Kyi, 76, has been detained since the coup along with most senior leaders of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party. Others are abroad or in hiding and no party spokesperson was available for comment.

“The charges were ludicrous, designed as retribution against popular leaders. So the guilty verdicts and prison terms are no surprise,” said Richard Horsey, a Myanmar expert at the International Crisis Group think tank.

The military has not given details of where Suu Kyi has been detained and it was not immediately clear if the sentencing would mean any immediate change in her circumstances.

The trial in the capital, Naypyitaw, has been closed to the media and the junta’s public information outlets have not mentioned the proceedings. Suu Kyi’s lawyers have been barred from communicating with the media and public.

Suu Kyi faces a dozen cases that include multiple corruption charges plus violations of a state secrets act, a telecoms law and COVID-19 regulations, which carry combined maximum sentences of more than a century in prison.

Suu Kyi and co-defendant Win Myint received jail terms of two years for incitement and the same term for breaches of coronavirus protocols. They had denied the charges.

Western countries have demanded Suu Kyi’s release and condemned the violence since the coup, in which some 1,300 people have been killed, according to rights groups.

Reacting to the secret ruling, the foreign secretary of former colonial power Britain, Liz Truss, condemned Suu Kyi’s sentencing as “another appalling attempt by Myanmar’s military regime to stifle opposition and suppress freedom and democracy”.

China, which has long had good relations with the military as well as Suu Kyi’s government, urged all parties to “bridge their differences under the constitutional and legal framework, and continue to advance the hard-earned democratic transition”, a foreign ministry spokesperson said.

U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet denounced what she called a politically motivated “sham” trial that would “only deepen rejection of the coup”. read more

“The military is attempting to instrumentalize the courts to remove all political opposition,” Bachelet said in a statement issued by her Geneva office.

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