Myanmar's Suu Kyi gets 5 years in corruption case

Myanmar's Suu Kyi gets 5 years in corruption case

A court in Myanmar has sentenced deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi to five years in jail after finding her guilty in the first of 11 corruption cases against her.

The Nobel laureate, who led Myanmar for five years before being forced out in a coup in early 2021, has been charged with 18 offences, which carry a maximum jail term of nearly 190 years if found guilty.

A source familiar with the trial told Reuters that the verdict was handed down within a few moments of the court's convening. The trial is being held behind closed doors, with information restricted, and the source declined to be identified.

Suu Kyi, 76, accepted seven gold bars and cash payments totalling $800,000 from her protege-turned-accuse, former Yangon chief minister Phyo Min Thein, according to the case.

Suu Kyi denied the charges, and her lawyers, before they were served with gag orders late last year, said she rejected all his testimony against her as absurd. Suu Kyi was sentenced to six years' imprisonment on convictions of illegally importing and possessing walkie-talkies, violating coronaviruses restrictions and sedition.

It was not immediately clear if Suu Kyi would be transferred to a prison.

She was held in an unidentified location where junta leader Min Aung Hlaing said she could remain after earlier guilty verdicts in other cases.

Suu Kyi's party won a landslide victory in a general election in 2020, but the military claimed there was widespread electoral fraud, an assertion that independent poll watchers doubted.

Her supporters and independent legal experts consider her prosecution an unjust move to discredit Suu Kyi and legitimise the military s seizure of power, while keeping her from returning to an active role in politics.

The international community has dismissed the trials as farcical and demanded her immediate release.

The military says Suu Kyi is being tried because she committed crimes and is being given due process by an independent judiciary.

A spokesman for the junta was not immediately available for comment.

The nine other cases that are currently being tried under the Anti-Corruption Act are related to the purchase and rental of a helicopter by one of her former cabinet ministers.

Violations of the law can result in a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a fine.

Suu Kyi is also charged with discharging money meant as charitable donations to build a residence, and misusing her position to obtain rental properties at lower-than-market prices for a foundation named after her mother.

The state Anti-Corruption Commission declared that several of her actions deprived the state of revenue it would otherwise have earned.

Another corruption charge alleging she accepted a bribe has not yet gone to trial.

Suu Kyi is being tried on a charge of violating the Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years, and a charge alleging election fraud, which has a maximum sentence of three years.