Wed. Jun 23rd, 2021

Myanmar’s ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, appeared in court in person on Monday for the first time since the military arrested her when it seized power on Feb. 1.

(Courtesy: (Screenshot from state-run TV)(Kyodo))

One of her lawyers, Min Min Soe said that Suu Kyi was able to meet with her defense team for about 30 minutes before the hearing began at a special court set up inside the city council building in Naypyitaw, the capital.

The lawyers also met with Win Myint, who was president of the government Suu Kyi led as state counsellor and faces some of the same charges.

Suu Kyi’s only previous court appearances have been by video link and she had not been allowed to meet in person with any of her lawyers.

Min Min Soe said Suu Kyi wanted to tell Myanmar’s people that her National League for Democracy party will stand by them.

She said that “since the NLD was founded for the people, the NLD will exist as long as the people exist,” Min Min Soe said after the hearing. She appeared to be referring to the ruling junta’s threat to dissolve the party.

Khin Maung Zaw, head of Suu Kyi’s legal team, said “she seems fit and alert and smart, as always.”

“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is always confident in herself, and she is confident in her cause and confident in the people,” he said, using an honorific for a respected older woman.

Monday’s hearing concerned several of the six charges Suu Kyi faces and was largely procedural.

There are two counts of violating the Natural Disaster Management Law for allegedly violating Covid-19 pandemic restrictions during the 2020 election campaign; illegally importing walkie-talkies that were for her bodyguards’ use; unlicensed use of the radios; and spreading information that could cause public alarm or unrest.

The most serious charge that Suu Kyi faces is breaching the colonial-era Official Secrets Act, which carries a penalty of up to 14 years’ imprisonment, but that is being handled by a separate court.

Suu Kyi’s supporters say the proceedings are politically motivated and are meant to discredit her and legitimize the military’s seizure of power. If convicted of any of the offenses, she could be banned from running in the election that the junta has pledged to hold within one or two years of its takeover. SOVEREIGNPH

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