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Junta Trial Of Myanmar's Suu Kyi Closes


FILE - Then Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi waits to address judges of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, Dec. 11, 2019.

A Myanmar junta court wrapped up its trial of ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Friday, a legal source told AFP, with the Nobel laureate jailed for a total of 33 years.

A prisoner of the military since the 2021 coup, Suu Kyi, 77, has been convicted on every charge leveled against her, ranging from corruption to illegally possessing walkie-talkies and flouting COVID restrictions.

On Friday she was found guilty on five counts of corruption related to the hiring, purchase and maintaining of a helicopter that had caused a "loss to the state," the source said.

"All her cases were finished and there are no more charges against her," said the source, who requested anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Suu Kyi -- who has now been jailed for 33 years following an 18-month trial that rights groups have dismissed as a sham -- appeared in good health, the source added.

Journalists have been barred from attending the court hearings and Suu Kyi's lawyers have been banned from speaking to the media.

The road leading to the prison holding Suu Kyi in the military-built capital Naypyidaw was clear of traffic ahead of the verdict, said an AFP correspondent in the city.

Suu Kyi would appeal the latest verdicts, the source said.

Since her trial began, she has been seen only once -- in grainy state media photos from a bare courtroom -- and has been reliant on lawyers to relay messages to the world.

Many in Myanmar's democracy struggle, which Suu Kyi has dominated for decades, have abandoned her core principle of non-violence, with "People's Defense Forces" clashing regularly with the military across the country.

Last week the United Nations Security Council called on the junta to release Suu Kyi in its first resolution on the situation in Myanmar since the coup.

It was a moment of relative unity by the council after permanent members and close junta allies China and Russia abstained, opting not to wield vetoes following amendments to the wording.

Turmoil

The corruption charges were "ridiculous," said Htwe Htwe Thein, an associate professor at Curtin University in Australia.

"Nothing in Aung San Suu Kyi's leadership, governance, or lifestyles indicates the smallest hint of corruption."

"The question now will be what to do with Aung San Suu Kyi," said Richard Horsey of the International Crisis Group.

"Whether to allow her to serve out her sentence under some form of house arrest, or grant foreign envoys limited access to her," he said.

"But the regime is unlikely to be in any rush to make such decisions."

The military alleged widespread voter fraud during the November 2020 election, won resoundingly by Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party, although international observers said the poll was largely free and fair.

The junta has since canceled the result and said it uncovered more than 11 million instances of voter fraud.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military seized power, ending the Southeast Asian nation's brief experiment with democracy and sparking huge protests.

The junta has responded with a crackdown that rights groups say includes razing villages, mass extrajudicial killings and airstrikes on civilians.

More than 1 million people have been displaced since the coup, according to the United Nations children's agency.

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