Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Myanmar’s Suu Kyi to face court this week, says lawyer

Aung San Suu Kyi has been charged with violating Myanmar's import and export law while President Win Myint is accused of violating coronavirus restrictions.

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Myanmar’s deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi will appear in court via video conference this week over charges brought against her by the new military junta, her lawyer said Monday.

Army chief General Min Aung Hlaing has justified the Feb 1 coup by alleging widespread voter fraud in November’s elections, which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party swept.

Two days after the putsch, the 75-year-old Nobel laureate was hit with the unusual charge of violating Myanmar’s import and export law, after a search of her house found walkie-talkies.

President Win Myint – who, like Suu Kyi, was detained in a dawn raid on Feb 1 – was charged with violating coronavirus restrictions when he took part in a campaign event last September that drew hundreds.

Both are expected to be questioned on Tuesday and Wednesday, said lawyer Khin Maung Zaw outside a court in Naypyidaw, Myanmar’s capital, after a meeting with a judge.

“When they are brought to the court on both Feb 16 and 17, they will be questioned via video-conferencing,” he said.

Neither has been publicly seen since the coup, though Suu Kyi’s party has heard that she is “in good health”.

Their detention period was set to end on Wednesday, said the lawyer – though it was likely to be extended.

He added that he would also be expected to represent Win Htein, a top NLD executive who was arrested after the coup.

Suu Kyi’s right-hand man and confidante, Win Htein, was interviewed by local media post-coup, calling on the people of Myanmar to “oppose (the coup) as much as they can”.

The 79-year-old NLD stalwart has been charged with defamation, said Khin Maung Zaw.

Khin Maung Zaw, who has not been allowed to meet his clients yet, said: “We are trying our best to meet with them.”

Since the coup, about 400 people have been detained, according to the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners monitoring group.

While many arrested were political supporters of Suu Kyi, authorities are also stepping up detentions of civilians taking part in nationwide protests against the military junta.

Security forces last week staged a late-night raid of the NLD headquarters in Yangon, confiscating computer devices, cutting server cables and breaking into the party’s safe.

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