Former Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to three years imprisonment with labour by a court on charges of electoral fraud, the Associated Press reported.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party had won a landslide victory in the 2020 general election, but the Army refused to accept the result citing unsubstantiated allegations of fraud.
Suu Kyi was ousted following a military takeover in February 2021 and put under house arrest.
On Friday, Amael Vier, a spokesperson for the Bangkok-based Asian Network for Free Elections, told the news agency that his organisation did not find any fraud in the elections.
“Domestic election observers from Myanmar also did not see that,” Vier said. “There were improvements to be made for sure – we were still coming from a long way behind other democracies, in Myanmar – but the claims of the junta that 25% of voters were fraudulent? This does not hold up to our scrutiny, for sure.”
Suu Kyi is already serving 17 years in jail for other offences, AP reported.
In April, a junta court had convicted her for corruption and sentenced her to five years in prison. The court found her guilty of accepting a bribe of $6,00,000, or over Rs 4.59 crore, in gold bars and cash from the former head of Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city and region.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has denied all the allegations against her, Reuters reported.
All the trials against her have been held in closed courts. The lawyers are restricted from releasing any information to media about the court proceedings, AP reported.
On Friday, former President Win Myint and former minister Min Thu were also sentenced to three years in prison in the election fraud case, an unidentified court official said. All three defendants, including Suu Kyi, received prison terms with labour. This category of punishment can include hard labour such as building roads.
The lawyer, however, clarified that it does not apply in this case. He said that the lawyers will be filing appeals against the verdict.
An unidentified spokesperson for the Amnesty International told the BBC that the Myanmar military is using the legal system “to smother dissent”.
“The relentless legal assault on Aung San Suu Kyi is one of the better-known examples of how the military has weaponised the courts to bring politically motivated or farcical charges against opponents, critics and protesters,” the spokesperson said.
According to non-profit organisation Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), the junta has arrested 15,000 persons, including Suu Kyi and members of her party, since the military seized power in February 2021. Of these, 12,000 continue to remain in prison.