Rights groups condemned the rulings as a ‘travesty of justice’
A Naypyitaw court on Monday sentenced detained leaders Aung San Suu Kyi and Win Myint to four years in prison on charges of incitement and breaking Covid-19 regulations, according to court sources.
They were the first verdicts handed down to the ousted State Counsellor and President after months of hearings.
Each leader received two years in prison for inciting public unrest under Section 505b of the Penal Code, a charge relating to two statements denouncing the junta released by the National League for Democracy (NLD) after the February 1 coup.
They received another two years under Section 25 of the Natural Disaster Management Law based on the charge they violated Covid-19 restrictions during last year’s election campaign.
Ousted Naypyitaw Mayor Myo Aung also received a two-year sentence for incitement for the two NLD statements at Monday’s hearing, where judge Maung Maung Lwin presided.
Closed-door hearings for Suu Kyi, 76, and Win Myint, 70, have been held at a specially designated court in Zabuthiri Township for the past several months.
The two have been kept at undisclosed locations.
It is unclear if Suu Kyi and the two other defendants will be moved to prison now that they have been sentenced.
The regime has barred all five of Suu Kyi’s lawyers from speaking publicly about her case, saying that it could create “a disturbance of the public tranquility.”
Monday’s rulings were “illegal” and were part of the junta’s attempt to cover up its own crimes, said Thein Oo, the justice minister of the shadow National Unity Government (NUG).
“All of the coup regime’s charges concerning political matters were void since the beginning and thus the rulings of the courts on those charges are absolutely illegal,” Thein Oo told Myanmar Now.
The ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) pressure group called the ruling a “travesty of justice.”
“No one is fooled by today’s sentencing,” said Charles Santiago, the group’s chair.
“Since the day of the coup, it’s been clear that the charges against Aung San Suu Kyi, and the dozens of other detained MPs, have been nothing more than an excuse by the junta to justify their illegal power grab,” he said in a statement.
The ruling also showed “continuing contempt” for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the five-point consensus the bloc reached with the junta earlier this year, he said.
“One of the agreed points is for constructive dialogue among all parties concerned, but instead, the junta is keeping one of the parties in jail,” said Santiago.
He called upon ASEAN to hold the line against the “illegal” military takeover and engage with the NUG.
“We continue our call for ASEAN to ban all junta representatives from its meetings [and] prevent junta generals from travelling in the region,” he said.
Suu Kyi faces a total sentence of several decades under ten other charges, including six for corruption. She has denied all of the charges.
The latest corruption charge relates to the rental of a helicopter by Dr Win Myat Aye, the former minister for social welfare, relief and resettlement.
The helicopter, which was rented for disaster management purposes, was allegedly improperly used with the approval of Suu Kyi and Win Myint, who has also been charged in connection with the case.
The junta announced earlier this month that it plans to prosecute 16 people for electoral fraud, including Suu Kyi, Win Myint, Myo Aung, and detained NLD vice chair Zaw Myint Maung.