Myanmar: Aung San Suu Kyi faces most serious corruption charge yet

  • Published
Related Topics
State Counsellor of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi attends the 22nd ASEAN Plus Three Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, 4 November 2019.Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Ms Suu Kyi faces six other charges relating to alleged illegal imports of walkie-talkies and inciting public unrest

Myanmar's military authorities have charged deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi with corruption, the most serious charge laid against her to date.

Ms Suu Kyi is accused of accepting cash and gold in bribes, and faces up to 15 years in jail if found guilty.

She faces six other charges relating to alleged illegal imports of walkie-talkies and inciting public unrest.

The former state counsellor was arrested on 1 February when the military seized power in a coup.

She has since been held under house arrest, and little has been seen or heard of her apart from brief court appearances.

A press release by the military council on Thursday said Ms Suu Kyi had accepted $600,000 (£425,000) in bribes and seven pieces of gold.

It also alleged that the previous civilian government - the National League for Democracy (NLD) - had lost significant sums of money in land deals. Besides Ms Suu Kyi, , who spent years under house arrest during previous periods of military rule, several other former officials face similar corruption and bribery charges.

Prior to this, the most serious charge filed against Ms Suu Kyi alleged that she had broken the official secrets act - which carries a term of up to 14 years in jail.

Myanmar's military seized power alleging voter fraud in general elections held last year.

But independent election monitors say the election was largely free and fair, and the charges against Ms Suu Kyi have been widely criticised as politically motivated.

They will likely be used to disqualify her from standing in elections in future, given her enduring popularity.

Her lawyer, Khin Maung Zaw, called the corruption charges "absurd", and said she could face long prison terms on the secrecy and corruption charges.

"That's one of the reasons to charge her - to keep her out of the scene," he told AFP news agency.

The coup triggered widespread demonstrations, and Myanmar's military has brutally cracked down on pro-democracy protesters.

Security forces have killed more than 800 people and detained nearly 5,000 to date, according to the monitoring group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

The charges against Aung San Suu Kyi

  • Corruption, with carries a maximum jail term of 15 years
  • Violating the official secrets act, which carries a maximum jail term of 14 years
  • Violating import-export laws by illegally importing walkie-talkies, which carries a maximum jail term of three years
  • Violating the telecommunications law by importing walkie-talkies, which carries a maximum jail term of 1 year
  • Two charges of violating a natural disaster law, carrying a maximum jail term of three years each
  • Inciting public unrest, which carries a maximum jail term of three years
Media caption,

"They have guns but we have people": Inside Myanmar’s Spring Revolution

Myanmar in profile

  • Myanmar, also known as Burma, became independent from Britain in 1948. For much of its modern history it has been under military rule
  • Restrictions began loosening from 2010 onwards, leading to free elections in 2015 and the installation of a government led by veteran opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi the following year
  • In 2017, Myanmar's army responded to attacks on police by Rohingya militants with a deadly crackdown, driving more than half a million Rohingya Muslims across the border into Bangladesh in what the UN later called a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing"