A court in military-ruled Myanmar convicted the country's ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi of corruption Friday, sentencing her to seven years in prison in the last of a string of criminal cases against her, a legal official said. The court's action leaves her with a total of 33 years to serve in prison after a series of politically tinged prosecutions since the army toppled her elected government in February 2021, per the AP. The case that ended Friday involved five offenses under the anti-corruption law. The 77-year-old Suu Kyi has also been convicted of several other offenses, including illegally importing and possessing walkie-talkies, violating coronavirus restrictions, breaching the country's official secrets act, sedition, and election fraud.
Her previous convictions had landed her with a total of 26 years behind bars. Suu Kyi's supporters and independent analysts say the numerous charges against her and her allies are an attempt to legitimize the military's seizure of power while eliminating her from politics before an election it has promised for 2023. In the five counts of corruption decided Friday, Suu Kyi was alleged to have abused her position and caused a loss of state funds by neglecting to follow financial regulations in granting permission to Win Myat Aye, a Cabinet member in her former government, to hire, buy, and maintain a helicopter.
Suu Kyi was the de facto head of government, holding the title of state counselor. Win Myint, who was president in her government, was a co-defendant in the same case and received the same sentence. Friday's verdict in the purpose-built courtroom in the main prison on the outskirts of the capital, Naypyitaw, was made known by a legal official who insisted on anonymity for fear of being punished by the authorities. The trial was closed to the media, diplomats, and spectators, and her lawyers were barred by a gag order from talking about it.
"From start to finish, the junta grabbed whatever it could to manufacture cases against her with full confidence that the country's kangaroo courts would come back with whatever punitive judgments the military wanted," Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division, said in an emailed statement. Her lawyers are expected to appeal. The anonymous official also said both Suu Kyi and Win Myint appeared to be in good health. (Read more Aung San Suu Kyi stories.)