Myanmar Court Dismisses Objection to ‘Evidence’ in Aung San Suu Kyi Incitement Trial

The defense vows to appeal, saying the two documents were never signed by the former state counselor.
2021.06.29
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Myanmar Court Dismisses Objection to ‘Evidence’ in Aung San Suu Kyi Incitement Trial A Myanmar protester holds a poster with an image of detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a candlelight vigil to honor those who have died during demonstrations against the military coup, in Yangon, March 13, 2021.
AFP

A court in Myanmar on Tuesday dismissed an objection by former State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi to documents presented by military prosecutors as evidence in her trial on “incitement” charges, although her defense team vowed to fight the decision in an appeal.

Myanmar’s military detained Aung San Suu Kyi in the aftermath of a Feb. 1 coup it orchestrated in the aftermath of a November landslide election victory by her ruling National League for Democracy (NLD). The junta claims the ballot was marred by widespread voter fraud but has yet to produce evidence of its allegations and has violently cracked down on demonstrations calling for an end to military rule.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been indicted in seven cases and faces charges that include spreading information that could cause public unrest, violating COVID-19 restrictions under the National Disaster Management Law, illegally importing two-way radios, and the unlicensed use of radios. The most serious of the charges she faces—violating the Official Secrets Act—carries a punishment of up to 14 years in prison.

On Tuesday, a special court in the capital Naypyidaw’s Zabu Thiri township dismissed an objection by her legal team to documents presented by the prosecution as evidence in her trial on charges of incitement under Section 505(b) of the Penal Code for allegedly issuing reports with intent to cause public fear. The incitement charge under Section 505(b) carries a maximum two-year prison sentence.

Following the hearing, Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyer Min Min Soe said that the court refused to accept the defense team’s argument that an NLD letter and statement submitted by the prosecution were signed by the party’s Central Executive Committee and not Aung San Suu Kyi, and should therefore be dismissed as evidence.

“Since the two documents were the main documents in the case, we have asked the court to issue an appropriate decision so we can make an appeal to a higher court on the basis of the defendant's right to appeal the ruling,” she told reporters.

Min Min Soe added that the 76-year-old Nobel laureate is “in good health” and had urged the people of Myanmar to “remain united and consistent” in their opposition to the junta.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s hearings are being held at the special court in Naypyidaw on the Monday and Tuesday of each week and are expected to be completed by mid-August. However, due to several interim rulings and amendments, the court has yet to even complete the testimonies of the prosecution’s witnesses.

Min Min Soe said it was unclear whether the trial will be completed by August as planned.

“Normally the court would have heard the prosecution’s case and the defense would have begun its examining its witnesses, at which point a decision would be made on whether or not to proceed with the trial,” she said.

“But at this point, the examination of the prosecution’s witnesses has not even been completed yet.”

On Monday, Agence France-Presse cited lawyer Khin Maung Zaw as saying that the trial is likely to take longer than planned, as nearly two dozen eyewitnesses were to be called in the cases.

Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

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