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Myanmar’s Suu Kyi awaits first verdict in trial

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A protester holds up a poster featuring Aung San Suu Kyi during a demonstration against the military coup in front of the Central Bank of Myanmar in Yangon. Suu Kyi was expected to hear the verdict in her incitement trial on November 30. AFP

Myanmar’s Suu Kyi awaits first verdict in trial

Ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi was expected to hear the verdict in her incitement trial on November 30, the first judgement from her many junta court cases that could see her jailed for decades.

The Nobel laureate has been detained since the generals ousted her government in the early hours of February 1, ending the Southeast Asian country’s brief democratic interlude.

More than 1,200 people have been killed and over 10,000 arrested in a crackdown on dissent, according to a local monitoring group.

Suu Kyi faces three years in prison if found guilty of incitement against the military – although analysts say it is unlikely she will be taken away to jail on November 30.

Instead, the court may delay its verdict or commute any jail term to house arrest in order to keep the popular leader out of sight as the junta works to consolidate its rule.

Journalists have been barred from proceedings in the special court in the military-built capital Naypyidaw and Suu Kyi’s lawyers were recently banned from speaking to the media.

The courtroom will remain off-limits to reporters for the verdict, junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun recently said.

Days after the coup Suu Kyi was hit with obscure charges for possessing unlicensed walkie-talkies, and for violating coronavirus restrictions during elections her National League for Democracy (NLD) won in 2020.

The junta has since added a slew of other indictments, including violating the official secrets act, corruption and electoral fraud.

Suu Kyi now appears most weekdays at the junta courtroom, with her legal team saying last month the hectic schedule was taking a toll on the 76-year-old’s health.

Lawyers gagged

Suu Kyi’s long spells of house arrest under a previous junta were spent at her family’s colonial-era mansion in Yangon, where she would appear before thousands gathered on the other side of her garden fence.

Min Aung Hlaing’s regime has confined her to an undisclosed location in the capital, with her link to the outside world limited to brief pre-trial meetings with her lawyers.

At her first court appearance, she used them to send a message of defiance, vowing the NLD would endure and asking the party faithful to remain united.

But in October her team were hit with a gag order after they relayed vivid testimony from deposed president Win Myint describing how he rejected a military offer to resign to save himself during the coup.

In recent weeks the trials of other ranking members of Suu Kyi’s NLD have wrapped up, with the junta doling out harsh sentences.

A former chief minister was sentenced to 75 years in jail earlier this month, while a close Suu Kyi aide was jailed for 20.

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