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Burmese court defers verdict against ousted leader Suu Kyi

A Myanmar court on Tuesday postponed its verdict in the trial of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi to allow the testimony of an additional witness, a senior member of her political party.

The court accepted a defense petition allowing Zaw Myint Maung, who was unable to appear in court due to health reasons, to add his testimony, a legal official said.

The court was due to deliver a verdict on Tuesday on charges of incitement and violation of coronavirus restrictions.

The verdict was reportedly the first for the 76-year-old Nobel Laureate since the military seized power on February 1, arresting her and preventing her National League for Democracy party from starting a second term.

She is also on trial on a slew of other charges, including bribery, which could send her to jail for decades if convicted.

The judge adjourned proceedings until Dec. 6, when Zaw Myint Maung is due to testify, said the legal official, who requested anonymity because the government restricted disclosure of information about the trial. It was not known when a verdict would be delivered.

The cases are widely seen as designed to discredit Suu Kyi and prevent her from running in the next election. The constitution prohibits anyone sentenced to prison from holding high office or becoming a legislator.

Zaw Myint Maung, who was chief minister of the Mandalay region, an important state-level post, was also arrested when the military took power. He is Suu Kyi’s party vice chairman and doctor, and as she faces several criminal charges, including bribery. He is 69 years old and is said to be suffering from leukemia.

He accompanied Suu Kyi on campaigning for last year’s election, including in Naypyitaw, where his presence was at the root of one of the charges of violating coronavirus restrictions.

Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide victory in the polls last year. The military, whose allied party lost many seats, claimed there had been massive electoral fraud, but independent election observers did not detect any major irregularities.

Suu Kyi remains very popular and a symbol of the struggle against military rule.

The military takeover has met with nationwide non-violent protests that security forces have cracked down on with lethal force, killing nearly 1,300 civilians, according to a count by the Association of assistance to political prisoners.

With severe restrictions on non-violent protests, armed resistance has grown in cities and countryside to the point where UN experts have warned the country is descending into civil war.

Suu Kyi, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her nonviolent fight for democracy, has not been seen in public since her arrest on the day the military took power. She has appeared in court in several of her trials, which are closed to media and spectators.

In October, Suu Kyi’s attorneys, who were the sole source of information about the legal process, received gag orders forbidding them from disclosing information.


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