A special court set up in military-ruled Myanmar sentenced deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi to an additional seven years in prison on Friday over corruption charges, legal sources said, bringing the total time she faces behind bars to 33 years.
The 77-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate and icon of opposition to the brutal military rule was tried on five counts of corruption at the court set up inside the prison compound in Myanmar’s capital Naypyitaw.
She was given a four-year jail term for the purchase of a helicopter bought by her administration under the pretext of disaster relief operations and three years for the remaining four charges related to its rental and maintenance operations.
The junta accused her of bypassing the required scrutiny procedures, though she denied any wrongdoing.
Since the military ousted her democratically elected government in a February 2021 coup and put her under house arrest, Suu Kyi has been on trial on a total of 19 criminal charges.
She has already been convicted of 14 of the charges and sentenced to 26 years in prison.
Suu Kyi’s defense team is expected to submit an appeal, the sources said, although any changes to the ruling by a higher court are unlikely.
Win Myint, former president in Suu Kyi’s deposed government, who was a co-defendant with her in the corruption case, also received the same seven-year sentence.
Friday’s ruling capped Suu Kyi’s 18-month-long trial, and the end of criminal procedures opens up the possibility of Suu Kyi meeting with others and a move to a place of accommodation more convenient to the regime under the pretext of house arrest.
The military has repeatedly told special envoys, including from the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, that it cannot grant them a meeting with Suu Kyi because of the ongoing legal process.
During his meeting with U.N. special envoy on Myanmar Noeleen Heyzer in Naypyitaw in August, the junta leader, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, said the military would decide on the fate of Suu Kyi “depending on the circumstances after completion of the judiciary process.”
He also said the military has given special privileges to her by letting her stay in “a home-like arrangement.”
There were mixed expectations in Myanmar on Friday on what is next for Suu Kyi, with some hoping, perhaps over-optimistically, for her release within days and others believing there is no chance for her freedom anytime soon.
Suu Kyi had spent more than 15 years under a series of house arrests while Myanmar was last ruled by the junta until 2011.
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES