The trial of deposed Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi got under way yesterday, more than four months after a military coup, with junta witnesses testifying the Nobel laureate flouted COVID-19 restrictions and illegally imported walkie-talkies.
Near daily protests have rocked Myanmar since the generals’ Feb. 1 putsch.
A mass uprising has been met with a brutal military crackdown that has killed more than 850 civilians, a local monitoring group said.
The junta has brought an eclectic raft of charges against Aung San Suu Kyi, including claims she accepted illegal payments of gold and breached a colonial-era secrecy law.
The court yesterday heard a police force major testify that Aung San Suu Kyi broke COVID-19 restrictions during last year’s elections, which her National League for Democracy (NLD) party won in a landslide, her lawyer Min Min Soe said.
Another police major testified on separate charges accusing her of illegally importing and possessing walkie-talkies, she added.
Aung San Suu Kyi “paid keen attention” throughout the hearing, another member of her legal team, Khin Maung Zaw, said in a statement.
Journalists were barred from proceedings in the special court in the capital, Naypyidaw, but an Agence France-Presse reporter said there was a heavy police presence outside.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyers — who have struggled to gain access to their client — have said they expect the trial to wrap up by July 26.
“I’m confident Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will overcome this trial,” Khin Maung Zaw said after the hearing. “And she seems quite determined to assert her rights, whatever the results.”
A separate trial is scheduled to start today over sedition charges she faces alongside ousted Burmese president Win Myint and another senior NLD member.
If convicted of all charges, Aung San Suu Kyi, 75, faces more than a decade in jail.
“It is a show trial motivated only by political reasons,” said Debbie Stothard, Coordinator of the Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma. “[Burmese Army Senior General] Min Aung Hlaing is determined to lock up Aung San Suu Kyi for the rest of her life. If he could, he would probably charge her under every law available.”
On Thursday, Aung San Suu Kyi was hit with additional corruption charges over claims she illegally accepted US$600,000 in cash and about 11kg of gold.
Khin Maung Zaw dismissed the new charges — which could see Aung San Suu Kyi hit with another lengthy prison term — as “absurd.”
BUSY DAY: The same day the USS ‘Barry’ passed through the Strait, Taiwan was ending its Han Kuang military exercises, while China said it conducted an exercise near Taiwan A US Navy ship on Friday sailed through the Taiwan Strait, marking the ninth time a US military vessel has transited the Strait since US President Joe Biden took office in January. The USS Barry, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, conducted a “routine” transit through the Strait, the US Navy said in a statement, adding that the journey through international waters was conducted “in accordance with international law.” “The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the US Navy said. “The United States military flies, sails and operates anywhere international law allows.” The Ministry
FRUIT SPAT: The COA said China had not given evidence for halting wax and custard apple imports, adding that it would spend NT$1bn on promoting sales of the fruit Taipei threatened to take China to the WTO yesterday after Beijing said it would suspend wax apple and custard apple imports from Taiwan due to pest concerns. China’s customs administration earlier yesterday said it had repeatedly found pests called Planococcus minor, a type of mealybug, on wax and custard apples from Taiwan. It asked its Guangdong branch and all affiliated offices to stop clearing the products from today. China had acted unilaterally, without providing scientific evidence, Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) told a news conference, criticizing the announcement’s timing, as it came during the Mid-Autumn Festival, celebrated in Taiwan
ON ALERT: A woman who tested positive for COVID-19 while abroad last year tested negative twice in Taiwan before showing a positive result on Sunday, the center said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported two locally transmitted COVID-19 infections, four imported cases and no deaths. The CECC meanwhile warned nearly 500 people to monitor their health after a woman tested postive. The center also reported that a previous local case — a female worker at Taoyuan International Airport Services (桃園航勤), who had the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 — likely contracted the disease from the same source as a previous imported case from Turkey. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the two local cases were reported in Taipei, and are a
CLOSED DOORS? The new US rules, which are to be implemented in November, have sparked concern in Taiwan, given its low fully vaccinated coverage rate The US plans to allow entry to most foreign air travelers as long as they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — while adding a testing requirement for unvaccinated Americans and barring entry for foreigners who have not received shots. The measures announced on Monday by the White House mark the most sweeping change to US travel policies in months, and widen the gap in rules between vaccinated people — who would see restrictions relaxed — and unvaccinated people. The new rules would replace existing bans on foreigners’ travel to the US from certain regions, including Europe. While the move would open the