Myanmar’s Suu Kyi to testify in own defense later this month

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Aung San Suu Kyi

FILE – In this Jan 27, 2021, file photo, Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi watches the vaccination of health workers at hospital in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. A court in Myanmar ruled Tuesday that the trial on charges of incitement of ousted national leader Aung San Suu Kyi and two of her political allies proceed to its substantive second phase, in which the defendants can present their case. Suu Kyi and her elected government were ousted by a military takeover in February. (AP Photo/Aung Shine Oo, File)

BANGKOK (AP) — Myanmar’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi this month will give courtroom testimony for the first time in one of the several cases against her since the military took power in February, her lawyers said Tuesday.

She and two co-defendants charged with incitement will testify in their own defense but will not call any other witnesses, said lawyer Khin Maung Zaw. Suu Kyi’s testimony is scheduled to begin Oct. 26.

The prosecution has finished presenting its witnesses in the case being heard in a special court in the capital Naypyitaw. Suu Kyi’s supporters and independent analysts say the charges against her are contrived and an attempt to discredit her and legitimize the military’s seizure of power.

Suu Kyi is being tried by the same court on two counts of breaking COVID-19 pandemic restrictions during the 2020 election campaign, illegally importing walkie-talkies, and unlicensed use of the radios.

Incitement, defined as spreading false or inflammatory information that could disturb public order, is sometimes referred to as sedition and punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment. The case involves statements posted on a Facebook page of her National League for Democracy party after she and other party leaders had already been detained.

All the proceedings against Suu Kyi are closed to the public and press. She is being held by the military at an undisclosed location in Naypyitaw.

Her co-defendants on the incitement charge are former Vice President Win Myint and the former Mayor of Naypyitaw, Myo Aung. All have denied the charges. Win Myint is scheduled to testify on Oct. 12, and Myo Aung on Nov. 2.

Faced with additional cases as well, the 76-year-old Suu Kyi on Tuesday applied to the court to hold its Monday and Tuesday sessions only every two weeks for health reasons. The court is expected to rule on her request on Oct. 12.

At a separate trial of Suu Kyi on Friday on corruption charges, a former political ally testified he had handed to her large amounts of cash and gold. Suu Kyi faces four corruption charges in those proceedings, each of which carries a penalty of up to 15 years’ imprisonment, the longest possible prison terms of the several offenses she has been charged with.

Preparations have also begun to try her for breaching the official secrets law, which carried a maximum prison term of 14 years.

The military seized power just before Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy would have begun a second five-year term in office. It said it acted because last November’s election was marred by widespread fraud, an assertion that is widely doubted. Protests over the army takeover are continuing, and have left over 1,000 civilians dead, along with growing armed resistance.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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