A military council court in Naypyitaw indicted detained State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday for incitement under Section 505b of the Penal Code, according to her legal defence team.
Judge Maung Maung Lwin, who presides over the court in Naypyitaw’s Zabuthiri Township created by the junta specifically to process cases against the deposed leader, formally announced the charge against Suu Kyi, as well as against President Win Myint and Naypyitaw mayor Myo Aung.
It was the first formal indictment out of several charges levied against the State Counsellor by the military since the February 1 coup.
A conviction for violating Section 505b carries a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment.
The three leaders pleaded “not guilty” at Tuesday’s court hearing, the head of their defence team Khin Maung Zaw told Myanmar Now.
The junta’s charges were based on sentiments expressed in statements released by the central executive committee of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party on February 7 and 13 following the coup that ousted the elected NLD-led government.
The NLD’s first statement urged the international community—including the UN, foreign governments, and diplomatic missions in Myanmar—not to recognise the military that overthrew their administration.
One week later, as the newly installed military council was preparing to enact a controversial cybersecurity law, the NLD released another statement that declared all regulations and laws enacted by the junta to be illegal.
The defence team for the State Counsellor, President and mayor initially objected to a ruling in late June in which the judge accepted the NLD’s statements as evidence to be used against them. The lawyers argued that the defendants had not signed the documents in question as they were already in detention at the time of publication.
Other key NLD members such as detained chief ministers, have also been accused of inciting violence for issuing similar statements urging the public to resist the military.
As per the defence’s request, on Tuesday the judge also recalled two witnesses from the prosecution: the plaintiff Soe Soe Shwe—administrator of Naypyitaw’s Ottara District—and police investigative officer Lt-Col Than Aye, Khin Maung Zaw added.
“The defence team of the accused have the right to recall the prosecution witnesses and re-examine them,” lawyer Min Min Soe, also a member of the defence team, explained.
Charges against Suu Kyi for allegedly violating Myanmar’s disaster management law through the disregard of Covid-19 protocols during last year’s election campaign were also heard and a witness for the prosecution testified, according to Khin Maung Zaw.
The next court hearing for both cases has been scheduled for September 28.
During hearings on Monday, three other charges against Suu Kyi were also heard, including those regarding further accusations of Covid-19 public health violations, and the illegal import and possession of walkie-talkies.
The next hearing for those cases is scheduled for October 4.
In a meeting with Suu Kyi on Monday, lawyer Khin Maung Zaw said that the State Counsellor dismissed online rumours that she opposed employing armed resistance against the coup regime, a strategy that has received popular support and has been endorsed by the shadow National Unity Government.
“She said she never turns against the wishes of the people,” her defence team told the media.
Suu Kyi will also begin weekly court hearings on October 1 for four corruption charges filed against her at the Mandalay High Court.
Those charges are the latest in a series of 11 offences the ousted State Counsellor has been accused of by the junta since she was detained on February 1. Seventy-six-year-old Suu Kyi potentially faces decades in prison if the junta convicts her and hands down the maximum sentences on all charges.
One charge of breaching the Official Secrets Act—in which Suu Kyi’s Australian economic advisor, Sean Turnell, and three of her Union cabinet members are also being sued—carries a 14-year prison sentence alone.
Source: Myanmar Now