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Myanmar Convicts Suu Kyi on New Charges08/15 06:09

   

   BANGKOK (AP) -- A court in military-ruled Myanmar convicted the country's 
ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, on more corruption charges on Monday, adding 
six years to her earlier 11-year prison sentence, a legal official said.

   The trial was held behind closed doors, with no access for media or the 
public, and her lawyers were forbidden by a gag order from revealing 
information about the proceedings.

   In the four corruption cases decided Monday, Suu Kyi was alleged to have 
abused her position to rent public land at below market prices and to have 
built a residence with donations meant for charitable purposes. She received 
sentences of three years for each of the four counts, but the sentences for 
three of them will be served concurrently, giving her a total of six more years 
in prison.

   She denied all the charges, and her lawyers are expected to appeal.

   She already had been sentenced to 11 years in prison on sedition, corruption 
and other charges at earlier trials after the military ousted her elected 
government and detained her in February 2021.

   Analysts say the numerous charges against her and her allies are an attempt 
to legitimize the military's seizure of power while eliminating her from 
politics before the military holds an election it has promised for next year.

   Suu Kyi and her co-defendants have denied all the allegations and their 
lawyers are expected to file appeals in the coming days, said the legal 
official, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to 
release information and feared punishment by the authorities.

   Other top members of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party and her 
government have also been arrested and imprisoned, and the authorities have 
suggested they might dissolve the party before the next election.

   The army seized power and detained Suu Kyi on Feb. 1, 2021, the day when her 
party would have started a second-five year term in office after it won a 
landslide victory in a November 2020 general election. The army said it acted 
because there had been massive voting fraud, but independent election observers 
did not find any major irregularities.

   The army's takeover sparked peaceful nationwide street protests that 
security forces quashed with lethal force, triggering armed resistance that 
some U.N. experts now characterize as civil war. The military government has 
been accused of human rights abuses including arbitrary arrests and killings, 
torture, and military sweeps that include air attacks on civilians and the 
burning of entire villages.

   Suu Kyi, 77, has been the face of opposition to military rule in Myanmar for 
more than three decades. She won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize while under house 
arrest.

   Her five years as its civilian government leader were marked by repression 
and military dominance even though it was Myanmar's most democratic period 
since a 1962 coup.

   Suu Kyi has been charged with a total of 11 counts under the Anti-Corruption 
Act, with each count punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine.

   In Monday's verdicts, the legal official said Suu Kyi received a three-year 
prison sentence for building a residence for herself in Naypyitaw, allegedly 
with money donated for a charitable foundation named after her mother that she 
chaired.

   She received a three-year sentence for allegedly taking advantage of her 
position to rent property in Yangon, the country's biggest city, for the same 
foundation, the official said.

   The two other cases decided Monday involved parcels of land in Naypyitaw for 
which she allegedly abused her authority to rent at below market prices for the 
foundation. She received a sentence of three years for each of those cases.

   The three cases pertaining to offenses in Naypyitaw are to be served 
concurrently.

   The former mayor of Naypyitaw, Myo Aung, was a co-defendant in both cases 
relating to granting permits to rent the land. Ye Min Oo, the former vice 
mayor, is a co-defendant in one case and Min Thu, a former member of the 
Naypyitaw Development Committee, in the other. Each received sentences of three 
years.

   The government Anti-Corruption Commission, which filed the case, had alleged 
that the rental fees agreed upon by the Naypyitaw Development Committee were 
lower than the rate fixed by the Ministry of Planning and Finance, so that the 
rental agreement deprived the state of revenue it should have received.

 
 
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