Myanmar court rules Suu Kyi bribery trial can continue
BANGKOK (AP) — A court in military-ruled Myanmar ruled Monday that there is sufficient evidence for the bribery trial of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi to continue, a legal official said.
Suu Kyi, who was deposed last year by the military, has been charged with 11 counts of corruption, each punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The cases are one of many pursued by the military against her. If found guilty of all the charges, she could be sentenced to more than 100 years in prison.
Her supporters and human rights groups say it’s meant to discredit her and keep her from running in an election that the military has promised in 2023.
A legal official who is familiar with Suu Kyi’s cases said she was formally indicted Monday on two corruption counts on charges of allegedly receiving $550,000 in bribes in 2019 and 2020 from Maung Weik, a tycoon who previously was convicted of drug trafficking.
State television last year showed a video in which Maung Weik claimed to have given payoffs to government ministers to help his businesses.
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Suu Kyi’s trials are closed to the media and her lawyers were served with gag orders last year, restricting them from releasing information.
The legal official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release information, said Suu Kyi pleaded not guilty after the court approved the indictments against her and allowed the trial to continue.
Suu Kyi has already been sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment on charges of illegally importing and possessing walkie-talkies, violating coronavirus restrictions, sedition and another corruption charge.
She is also being tried on a charge of violating the Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years, and an election fraud charge, which carries a maximum sentence of three years.
The legal official said Suu Kyi appeared Monday to be in good health although she seemed sad when she was informed by her lawyers about the executions of four political prisoners before the trial began.
Myanmar’s military government announced earlier that it had carried out the executions of a former lawmaker from her party, a democracy activist and two men accused of a targeted killing. Suu Kyi did not issue any comments.