A court in military-ruled Myanmar sentenced Aung San Suu Kyi to five years in jail on Wednesday after finding her guilty in the first of 11 corruption cases against her, a source with knowledge of the proceedings told NBC News.
The Nobel laureate and figurehead of Myanmar's opposition to military rule is charged with 18 offenses carrying combined maximum jail terms of nearly 190 years, all but killing off any chance of a political comeback.
The judge in the capital, Naypyitaw, handed down the verdict within a few moments of the court convening and gave no explanation, said a source who declined to be identified because the trial is being held behind closed doors, with information restricted.
Myanmar s state media has not reported on developments in Suu Kyi's multiple legal cases, and in October authorities barred her lawyer from speaking about her to media, diplomats, international organizations and foreign governments.
Suu Kyi, 76, led Myanmar for five years during a short period of tentative democracy before being forced out of power in a coup in February 2021 by the military, which has ruled the former British colony for five of the past six decades.
It was not immediately clear if she would be transferred to a prison to serve the sentence.
Since her arrest, she has been held in an unidentified location where junta chief Min Aung Hlaing previously said she could remain in December and January for comparatively minor offenses, for which she was sentenced to six years altogether.
Myanmar s ministry of legal affairs, ministry of information and Supreme Court did not respond to emailed requests for comment.
Suu Kyi accepted gold and cash payments totaling $600,000 from her prot g turn-accuser Phyo Min Thein, the former chief minister of the city of Yangon, according to the latest case.
Suu Kyi had called the allegations absurd and denies all charges against her, which included violations of state secrets laws, incitement and corruption.
Suu Kyi's days as a free woman were effectively over, according to Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
Myanmar's junta and the country's kangaroo courts are walking in lockstep to put Aung San Suu Kyi away for what could ultimately be the equivalent of a life sentence, given her advanced age, he said.
The junta is leaving nothing to chance by destroying popular democracy in Myanmar and getting rid of Aung San Suu Kyi. Myanmar has been in a turmoil since the coup, with nationwide protests and public anger suppressed by the military with lethal force. Hundreds of thousands of people have been arrested and many killed, tortured and beaten in what the United Nations has called crimes against humanity.
The international community has imposed sanctions on the military and dismissed Suu Kyi's trials as farcical. There were no immediate responses from the embassies in Myanmar of the United States and Britain to requests for comment.
The military has said that Suu Kyi committed crimes and is being given due process by an independent judiciary and rejects foreign criticism as interference.
The junta has refused to allow her visits, including by a special Southeast Asian envoy trying to end the crisis.
Suu Kyi's conviction Wednesday indicates that the junta has no intention to resolve the situation peacefully, said Tun Aung Shwe, a member of the shadow National Unity Government who has declared a people's revolt against military rule.
He said it was another action that closes the door to political dialogue.