Witness Disputes Myanmar Junta Allegation of Suu Kyi Power Abuse

By The Irrawaddy 10 March 2022

A junta court heard a corruption case on Tuesday against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, in which a prosecution witness disputed regime allegations that the detained State Counselor abused her power to purchase land plots at lower prices for her charity foundation in the Myanmar capital Naypyitaw.

U Ko Ko Oo, a department head from the Naypyitaw Development Committee, testified at a court hearing in Naypyitaw on Tuesday that the land was sold to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at the official price fixed by the development committee, a source close to the court told The Irrawaddy.

In 2018, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi bought more than 90 acres of land in Naypyitaw’s Ottarathiri Township for 700 million kyats ($444,000 at the time) for the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation, a charity which she established in 2012 and named after her mother.

The land was earmarked for the La Yaung Taw project, which aimed to establish a vocational training school and a forest. The land was sold at five million kyats per acre, an official price set by the Naypyitaw Development Committee.

The military regime, which seized power from the civilian National League for Democracy government led by Suu Kyi in February last year, filed a corruption case against her regarding the land purchase, claiming that there was a difference between the land price set by the Internal Revenue Department and the price at which it was sold to the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation.

“The witness testified frankly. The defense questioned him to highlight the fact that the decision [to sell land to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at the said rate] was made by the development committee, and that the Internal Revenue Department has never complained to the development committee,” said the source close to the court.

Former Yangon Region chief U Phyo Min Thein, his wife Daw Khin Mi Mi Kywe and plaintiffs U Ye Htet and U Muang Maung Kyi were cross-examined by Suu Kyi’s lawyers on Monday and Tuesday over allegations that U Phyo Min Thein gave seven viss (around 11.4kg) of gold and US$600,000 to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in 2017 and 2018 while she was in office.

The plaintiff in another corruption case against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, ousted President U Win Myint and former social welfare, relief and resettlement minister U Win Myint Aye also testified on Tuesday. The charge relates to the rental and purchase of a helicopter for use in the management of natural disasters and state affairs, including rescues and emergencies.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is on trial for nearly a dozen charges that carry a combined maximum prison sentence of more than 100 years. The regime has also filed multiple charges against U Win Myint. Both were handed jail sentences in December and January after being convicted of a number of charges.

Lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court of the Union in the last week of February to withdraw five corruption charges each against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, former Naypyitaw mayor Dr. Myo Aung, and former Yangon ministers U Ye Min Oo and U Naing Ngan Linn.

The Supreme Court will decide on March 15 whether or not to allow the appeal.

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