Myanmar court says Aung San Suu Kyi's last corruption trial to go on

Aung San Suu Kyi has already been sentenced to 26 years’ imprisonment after being convicted on charges of illegally importing and possessing walkie-talkies, violating coronavirus restrictions, and other counts of corruption.

October 18, 2022 04:43 pm | Updated 04:43 pm IST - BANGKOK

Aung San Suu Kyi. File

Aung San Suu Kyi. File | Photo Credit: AP

A court in military-ruled Myanmar ruled on October 18 that the last trial for corruption of the country’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi will go ahead after finding that state prosecutors submitted enough evidence to sustain her indictment.

Ms. Suu Kyi, who was arrested when the military seized power from her elected government in February last year, has since been charged with a total of 12 counts under the anti-corruption law, each punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine. The corruption cases are among several charges pursued by the military against her.

Explained | The legal battles of Aung San Suu Kyi since the 2021 coup in Myanmar

Rights groups and supporters of Ms. Suu Kyi say the charges against her are politically motivated and an attempt to discredit her and legitimise the military’s seizure of power while preventing her from returning to politics.

Ms. Suu Kyi has already been sentenced to 26 years’ imprisonment after being convicted on charges of illegally importing and possessing walkie-talkies, violating coronavirus restrictions, breaching the country’s official secrets act, sedition, election fraud and seven other counts of corruption.

The case the court considered on Tuesday concerned five counts of corruption against her and and former President Win Myint related to the rental, purchase and maintenance of a helicopter by a third member of the Cabinet in her former government. Ms. Suu Kyi was the de facto head of government, holding the title of State Counsellor.

The state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported in December that the Anti-Corruption Commission found that she and Win Myint abused their power and caused a loss of state funds and property by neglecting to follow financial regulations in granting permission to then-Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Minister Win Myat Aye to rent and buy a helicopter.

Win Myat Aye is currently serving as Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management in the National Unity Government, an Opposition group that lays claim to being the country’s legitimate, parallel administration. It is widely popular but the military has declared it a “terrorist group.”

A legal official familiar with Tuesday’s court proceedings confirmed that Ms. Suu Kyi and Win Myint pleaded not guilty after they were formally indicted on five counts of corruption. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to release information, said they appeared to be in good health.

The indictment followed the prosecution’s presentation of its case. With the court’s acceptance of the indictment, the court will hear the defence arguments in the coming weeks, including re-examination of the prosecution’s witnesses.

Under Myanmar law, a judge can order an end to a trial after the prosecution has presented its case if it is found not to have merit. This first phase is roughly similar to a grand jury process in Anglo-American law. If the judge finds the prosecution case credible, the trial continues into a second phase in which the defence presents its case and a verdict is delivered.

Ms. Suu Kyi’s trials have been held in a purpose-built courtroom in the main prison on the outskirts of the capital, Naypyitaw. The hearings are closed to the media and the public and because Ms. Suu Kyi's lawyers were served with gag orders last year, they are barred from releasing details of the proceedings.

The army’s takeover in 2021 was met with widespread non-violent protests that security forces tried to crush with lethal force, eventually triggering significant armed resistance leading to what some United Nations experts have characterised as a civil war.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.