The Myanmar junta has hit deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi with corruption charges over claims she accepted illegal payments of gold and more than half a million dollars in cash, state media reported on June 10.
The country has been in turmoil since the generals ousted Suu Kyi on February 1, with more than 850 civilians killed in a brutal crackdown by security forces on near-daily protests against the coup.
The 75-year-old Nobel laureate, who has been in custody since the putsch, is facing a raft of wide-ranging criminal charges, including sedition and breaching a colonial-era secrecy law.
The latest charges relate to allegations by the former Yangon region chief minister that Suu Kyi illegally accepted $600,000 in cash from him along with around 11kg of gold.
The Anti-Corruption Commission found evidence that Suu Kyi had committed “corruption using her rank”, according to the Global New Light of Myanmar, a state-run newspaper. “So she was charged under Anti-Corruption Law section 55.”
She is also accused of abusing her authority when renting two areas of land for her charitable foundation.
After weeks of legal wrangling, two of Suu Kyi’s trials are due to start in earnest next week, hearing evidence from witnesses.
In Naypyidaw, the remote capital purpose-built by the previous military regime, her trial on charges of violating restrictions during last year’s election campaign and possessing unlicensed walkie-talkies will start on June 14.
A separate case is scheduled to start on June 15, where she is charged with sedition alongside ousted president Win Myint and another senior member of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party.
Her lawyer, Khin Maung Zaw, dismissed the corruption charges as “absurd”, claiming that the real reason behind the accusations was to “keep her out of the scene”. He said Suu Kyi could face long prison terms on the secrecy and corruption charges.