A court in Myanmar ruled Tuesday that prosecutors presented enough evidence against ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi and two of her political allies for their trial to continue on charges of incitement.
Suu Kyi and her elected government were ousted by the military in February. A special court in the capital, Naypyitaw, is hearing various charges filed against her and several colleagues by the military, including incitement — spreading false or inflammatory information that could disturb public order.
Her co-defendants in the incitement charge are former Vice President Win Myint and the former mayor of Naypyitaw, Myo Aung. The charge is punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment.
Under the law, a judge can order an end to a trial after the prosecution has presented its case if it does not have merit. If the judge finds the prosecution case credible, the trial continues into a second phase in which the defence presents its case and a verdict is rendered.
Defence lawyers Kyi Win and Min Min Soe said the court ruled Tuesday that the trial would continue, formally indicting the defendants.
Kyi Win said the defendants were told to enter a plea, and all three pleaded not guilty. The defence lawyers asked that two prosecution witnesses be recalled for cross-examination before the defence presents its witnesses.
Suu Kyi is also being tried on two counts of 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.
Suu Kyi’s supporters and independent analysts say the charges are politically motivated and are an attempt to discredit her and legitimize the military’s seizure of power.
The army takeover was met with massive popular resistance, which is continuing despite harsh measures by security forces.
The same court on Tuesday heard from a prosecution witness on the charges that Suu Kyi and Win Myint violated coronavirus restrictions.
Suu Kyi also faces 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.