YANGON: A court in military-ruled Myanmar jailed deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi for four years on Monday on charges of incitement and breaching coronavirus restrictions, a source familiar with the proceedings said, in a case that critics dismissed as a farce.
President Win Myint was also sentenced to four years in prison, the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, as the court delivered its first verdicts in numerous cases against Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders detained by the military in a coup on Feb. 1.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the coup against Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government sparked widespread protests and raised international concern about the halt to tentative political reforms following decades of military rule.
Nobel peace prize winner Suu Kyi, 76, has been detained since the coup along with most senior leaders of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party. Others are abroad or in hiding and no party spokesperson was available for comment.
“The charges were ludicrous, designed as retribution against popular leaders. So the guilty verdicts and prison terms are no surprise,” said Richard Horsey, a Myanmar expert at the International Crisis Group think tank.
A military spokesman did not respond to attempts by Reuters to reach him for comment on the sentencing, which was widely reported in domestic media.
The military has not given details of where Suu Kyi has been detained and it was not immediately clear if the sentencing would mean any immediate change in her circumstances.
The trial in the capital, Naypyitaw, has been closed to the media and the junta’s public information outlets have not mentioned the proceedings. Suu Kyi’s lawyers have been barred from communicating with the media and public.
Suu Kyi faces a dozen cases that include multiple corruption charges plus violations of a state secrets act, a telecoms law and COVID-19 regulations, which carry combined maximum sentences of more than a century in prison.
Suu Kyi and co-defendant Win Myint received jail terms of two years for incitement and the same term for breaches of coronavirus protocols. They had denied the charges.