Myanmar sentences Aung San’s assistant Suu Kyi to 20 years in prison

Win Htein, 80, is the first high-ranking NLD member to be sentenced to prison after the February military coup.

Myanmar’s military sentenced a close associate of deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi to 20 years in prison, said his lawyer, the first high-ranking member of his party to be jailed by a military government court.

The country has been in crisis since a February 1 coup toppled the National League for Democracy (NLD) government of Aung San Suu Kyi, accusing it of fraud in the 2020 elections that it overwhelmingly won, a claim that the country’s electoral commission has rejected.

Since then, Myanmar has been in chaos, with huge pro-democracy protests and a crackdown on dissent that has killed more than 1,200 people, according to a local watchdog group.

Former member of parliament and NLD president Win Htein was sentenced to 20 years in prison for treason by a special court in the capital Naypyidaw, lawyer Myint Thwin told AFP news agency on Friday.

He added that he would appeal the sentence and that his client was in good health.

In a message to the Reuters news agency, Win Htein’s daughter Chit Suu Win Htein condemned the ruling but said it was not unexpected.

“It is not a surprise, but it is sad and outrageous to hear about the ridiculous sentence. The perpetrators of this injustice will be held responsible for this … Please wait people! We will win!”

Win Htein, 80, was arrested after the February 1 coup.

The former soldier is a long-time political prisoner who has spent long periods of time in detention for campaigning against the military regime.

Considered the right hand man of Aun San Suu Kyi, he has long been sought out by the national and international media for information on what the former de facto leader of Myanmar is thinking.

The politician in a wheelchair needs oxygen to help him breathe, according to local media, and suffers from hypertension, diabetes, and heart and thyroid disease.

Before his arrest, three days after the coup, he had told local media that the military coup “was not prudent”, and that its leaders “have taken [the country] in the wrong direction. “

‘Not a good sign for others’

The ruling was “an indication that this regime wants to release the book to these NLD leaders,” including Aung San Suu Kyi, Richard Horsey of the International Crisis Group told AFP.

“They want to portray them as traitors, corrupt, etc. It is definitely not a good sign for others, ”he said, although he added that it was possible that the military would have a revenge against former soldier Win Htein.

Aung San Suu Kyi faces a number of charges that could land her in jail for decades, including illegally importing walkie-talkies, breaching coronavirus rules, accepting cash and gold bribes, incitement to cause public alarm. and the violation of the Law of Official Secrets.

She testified for the first time in post-coup court on Tuesday, four months after being tried by the military, a source with knowledge of the case told AFP.

She denied the incitement charge in connection with the publication of a letter from her party in February asking international organizations not to cooperate with the military government.

The media has been banned from attending Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial at the special court in Naypyidaw, the military-built capital, and the military government recently banned its legal team from speaking to reporters.

Before the ban, her lawyers said the 76-year-old Nobel laureate would not call any defense witnesses in her incitement trial and would represent herself.

The military government has threatened to dissolve the NLD and continues to wage a bloody campaign against opponents of its government.

Before being ousted, Aung San Suu Kyi led a civilian government after her party won the 2015 elections, called as the army walked away from half a century of direct rule.

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