The official also said that Suu Kyi would be sentenced to 10 months for the time she has already served in custody for the incitement case, leaving her one year and two months to serve on that charge. There was no similar reduction for the coronavirus restriction charge.
Sentences were quickly met with harsh criticism. Yanghee Lee, the former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar, described the allegations as well as the verdict as false, stating that any trial held in the country is unfair as the judiciary is subject to government-installed government.
Rights groups also expressed regret over the decisions, with Amnesty International calling them the latest example of the military’s determination to eliminate all opposition and stifle liberties in Myanmar.
China, a neighbor that has maintained friendly ties with Myanmar’s military leaders, has refused to criticize the decision against Suu Kyi.
Beijing hopes that all parties in Myanmar take into account the country’s long-term interests, narrow the gap and continue the process of hard-won democratic transition, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters at a daily news conference Monday.
Monday’s incitement case included statements posted on the site of the ousted ruling parties on Facebook after Suu Kyi and other party leaders had already been arrested by the military. The coronavirus allegations included a campaign appearance ahead of last November’s election, which her party won by an overwhelming majority.
The military, whose allied party lost many seats in the election, claimed massive voting fraud, but independent election observers found no major irregularities.
The Naypyitaw court ruling was followed by a legal official who insisted on anonymity for fear of being punished by the authorities. Suu Kyis trials are closed to the media and spectators, and her lawyers, who had been the sole source of information on the proceedings, were ordered to lie in October, barring them from providing information.
Government officials could not be contacted immediately for further details about the decision. Special courts are a legacy of British colonial rule, appointed to hear specific cases. They are most often used for political issues.
Defense lawyers are expected to make appeals in the coming days to Suu Kyi and two colleagues who were also convicted Monday, the legal official said.
The cases against Suu Kyi are widely seen as fabricated to discredit him and prevent him from running in the next election. The constitution prohibits any person sent to prison after being convicted of a crime of holding high office or becoming a lawmaker.
Opposition to military rule remains strong for 10 months after the military takes power, and the decision could spark further tensions.
On Sunday there were protest marches against the military government and calling for the release of Suu Kyi and other arrested members of her government. A military truck went quickly to a march of about 30 youths in Yangon, the country’s largest city, and at least three of the protesters may have been killed, according to unconfirmed reports.
Decisions in the first two cases of Suu Kyis, for inciting the alleged dissemination of false or inciting information that could disturb public order and violating the Natural Disaster Management Act for allegedly violating coronavirus restrictions, were to be handed down on Tuesday. passed. However, the court postponed its decision without any explanation. At the same time, she agreed to allow testimony this week of a separate coronavirus charge from an additional defense witness who had previously been unable to attend court due to ill health.
Suu Kyis’s lawyers strongly demanded that the incitement charges be dropped. The prosecution’s evidence consisted of statements posted on a Suu Kyis party Facebook page. Defense attorneys argued that Suu Kyi and a co-defendant, former President Win Myint, could not be held responsible for statements criticizing the seizure of power and suggested in broad terms that he resist because they were already in custody.
Former Naypyitaw Mayor Myo Aung was another defendant on the incitement charge, which envisions a maximum sentence of two years in prison and a fine. He was sentenced to two years, while Win Myint was sentenced to a total of four years, two for incitement and two for violating coronavirus restrictions. Both men received the same 10-month credit for the time Suu Kyi served.
The takeover in February was met with non-violent nationwide demonstrations, which security forces suppressed with deadly force. They have killed about 1,300 civilians, according to a detailed report compiled by the Association for the Relief of Political Prisoners.
With severe restrictions on non-violent protests, armed resistance has grown in towns and villages, to the point that UN experts have warned that the country is slipping into civil war.
The military took Suu Kyi into custody on the day she came to power and she has not been seen in public since, although she has appeared in court in some of her trials.
The verdict on Suu Kyis’s second indictment for violating coronavirus restrictions is scheduled for December 14. The maximum sentence for each charge is three years imprisonment and a fine.
Other cases against Suu Kyi now being tried cover the import and alleged unregistered use of radios by its security guards; violation of the Official Secrets Act, in which jailed Australian economist Sean Turnell is co-defendant; and four separate allegations of corruption covering alleged bribery and abuse of office to obtain favorable terms for property transactions. Each of the corruption charges carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a fine.
A trial on a fifth charge of corruption has not yet begun, and state media last week reported that a sixth charge has also been filed against Suu Kyi.
The latest indictment accuses him and Win Myint of corruption in issuing permits to rent and buy a helicopter.
In mid-November, the army-appointed election commission announced it intended to prosecute Suu Kyi and 15 other senior political figures for alleged fraud in the last election, which could result in the dissolution of its party.
The military has said it has seized power over widespread electoral fraud, a claim that independent election observers say has no evidence.
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