Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s Lawyers Object to Myanmar Regime’s Evidence Against Her
By The Irrawaddy 16 June 2021
Lawyers for Myanmar’s detained leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi have objected to evidence presented at court hearings in her trials for allegedly violating COVID-19 restrictions and the sedition law, on grounds of authenticity and relevance.
Proceedings in the two cases against Myanmar’s detained State Counselor were held at a special court in Naypyitaw on Tuesday.
During the hearing, plaintiff U Tun Myint Aung (aka U Nyi Nyi), a resident of Naypyitaw’s Zabuthiri Township, submitted photos of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi taking part in last year’s election campaign in the township, alleging they show that she breached COVID-19 restrictions.
Her legal team objected to the introduction of the photos as evidence, saying the images were not original and came from secondary sources, said U Kyi Win, one of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyers.
“In the pictures, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was visibly either in a facemask or face shield. More importantly, they [the pictures submitted to the court] are not originals. They are merely phone screengrabs,” he said.
In a statement, the lawyers said the photos that U Nyi Nyi presented to the court were objected to by the defense, after which “A brief … argument occurred and the judge intervened and adjourned the case [to allow a] comprehensive argument on this issue.”
On the same day, the general administrator of Naypyitaw’s Dekkhina Thiri District, U Soe Soe Shwe, testified for the prosecution in the sedition cases against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint and Dr. Myo Aung, the ousted chairman of the Naypyitaw Council, under Article 505(b) of the Penal Code. As evidence, statements issued by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) in the wake of the Feb. 1 coup were submitted. In these, the NLD’s Central Executive Committee said any laws, orders and directives by the regime were illegal, and welcomed anti-regime protests while calling on party members to support civil servants who are striking as part of the Civil Disobedience Movement.
The evidence was rejected as “irrelevant” by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyers, who pointed out that at the time the statements were issued both she and President U Win Myint were in military detention, lawyer U Kyi Win said. They were arrested on the morning of Feb. 1 as the military was staging its coup.
Therefore, the legal team said, the judge intervened and adjourned both cases to June 22 to allow for comprehensive arguments.
The trio met with their legal team as a group for the first time before the hearing started on Tuesday to discuss the charges, according to Daw Min Min Soe, another member of the legal defense team.
On Monday, the court heard testimony from the plaintiffs in three cases against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi regarding alleged possession of illegally imported walkie-talkies, violations of the Telecommunications Law and Natural Disaster Management Law. It also held a hearing in the case against President U Win Myint under the Natural Disaster Law.
The legal team expects the trials to conclude by July 26, within six months of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s arrest, because the five cases against her are “simple”. Hearings are scheduled to be held every Monday and Tuesday.
The lawyers said they expected to cross-examine prosecution witnesses at next week’s hearings, as they did not have time to do it at Monday and Tuesday’s hearings.
The junta has filed a total of seven charges against the State Counselor since placing her under house arrest in the wake of the Feb. 1 coup. The cases are being presided over at a specially prepared courthouse by Judge U Maung Maung Lwin of the Zabuthiri Township Court.
The sixth charge, under the Official Secrets Act, was filed separately at the Yangon Eastern District Court and referred to the Union Supreme Court last month. This charge will be heard on June 23.
Last week, the junta brought a seventh charge against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi under the Anti-Corruption Law. The legal team has informed her of the charge, but lawyer Daw Min Min Soe said they have no information about the case yet, as it has not yet been brought before the court.
Following the takeover, the junta launched corruption probes, based on which it has accused Daw Aung San Suu Kyi of accepting cash and gold and abusing her authority and funds donated to her charitable foundation.
The 75-year-old could face at least 25 years’ imprisonment, meaning she would spend the rest of her life behind bars if convicted.
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