The deposed leader is currently on trial in the capital Naypyitaw over charges that include illegal importation and possession of walkie-talkie radios and violating coronavirus protocols under a disaster management law.
Lawyers for Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi have said they have been informed by the military-installed government that four new charges of corruption have been filed against the ousted leader.
The military overthrew Suu Kyi’s elected government in February and arrested her and top members of her National League for Democracy party, including President Win Myint. Widespread popular resistance against the military takeover is continuing, despite harsh measures by the security forces to quash it.
Since the takeover, the new government has filed a number of criminal charges against Suu Kyi, who is in detention, and several of her colleagues.
Suu Kyi’s supporters as well as independent analysts say all of the charges are politically motivated and an attempt to discredit her and legitimise the military’s seizure of power.
She is currently on trial in the capital Naypyitaw on charges of sedition – defined as spreading information that could cause public alarm or unrest – two counts of flouting breaking Covid-19 pandemic restrictions during the 2020 election campaign; illegally importing walkie-talkies that were for her bodyguards’ use; and unlicensed use of the radios.
Win Myint is her co-defendant on several of the charges.
14-year term at maximum
Suu Kyi has also has been facing additional charges that have yet to be tried: accepting bribes, which carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison, and violating the Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum term of 14 years.
One of her lawyers, Min Min Soe, told reporters Monday that there would be a first hearing on the new charges on June 22 in the High Court in Mandalay, the country’s second biggest city. She said two of the charges are solely against Suu Kyi, and the other two include additional people, but no other details were given her team.
A lengthy wide-ranging news conference held Monday by the government made no mention of the new charges.
On June 10, official media reported that the state Anti-Corruption Commission had found that Suu Kyi accepted bribes and misused her authority to gain advantageous terms in real estate deals. Suu Kyi’s lawyers already denied the allegations when they were first made in March.
Reports in state media including the Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper said the anti-corruption body had found that Suu Kyi illegally accepted $600,000 and seven gold bars from the former chief minister of Yangon Region, a political ally.
The report also said the commission had found that Suu Kyi has misused her position to obtain rental properties at lower-than-market prices for a charitable foundation named after her mother that she chaired.
The report said that the action deprived the state of revenue it would otherwise have earned.
State television has presented videos of testimony by alleged witnesses to the payoffs in cash and gold, but there was no explanation of the circumstances in which the videos were made or evidence to back up what was said.