Legal Officials Say Myanmar’s Supreme Court Agrees To Hear Appeal Of Suu Kyi’s Bribery Conviction

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Legal Officials Say Myanmar’s Supreme Court Agrees To Hear Appeal Of Suu Kyi’s Bribery Conviction
Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi waits to address judges of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands. (Photo: AP)

BANGKOK (AP) — Myanmar’s Supreme Court has agreed to hear a special appeal of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s bribery conviction for allegedly receiving gold and thousands of dollars from a former political ally, legal officials said Tuesday.

Suu Kyi, 77, was arrested when the army toppled her elected government in February 2021, and was tried on a range of charges for which she was sentenced to a total of 33 years in prison. Her supporters and independent legal experts say the cases were politically motivated in an attempt to discredit her and legitimize the military’s takeover while preventing her from returning to politics.

Two legal officials familiar with Suu Kyi’s cases said the Supreme Court decided last Friday to hear the special appeal of the corruption case, in which she was convicted of receiving USD 600,000 and seven gold bars in 2017-18 from Phyo Min Thein, the former chief minister of Yangon, the country’s biggest city. She was sentenced to five years in prison in April last year after being found guilty of bribery. Her lawyers, before they were served with gag orders in late 2021, said she rejected all the corruption allegations against her as “absurd.”

The legal officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to release information about the court’s decision, said it has not yet scheduled a date for the appeal hearing. Her lawyers’ initial appeal of the conviction to the Supreme Court was rejected last November.

In April, the Supreme Court agreed to hear appeals of Suu Kyi’s convictions in five other corruption cases, and requests for reduced sentences in cases in which she was accused of breaching the official secrets act and election fraud. The dates for the hearings for those appeals have also not been set.

Suu Kyi has been convicted on a range of charges, including illegally importing and possessing walkie-talkies, violating coronavirus restrictions, sedition, breaching the secrets act and election fraud, as well as corruption. Most appeals filed by her lawyers on her behalf have already been rejected.

Suu Kyi’s legal team has faced several handicaps, including being unable to meet with her to receive her instructions as they prepare her appeals. They have applied at least three times for permission to meet with Suu Kyi since they last saw her in person in December, but have not received any response, one of the legal officials said.

The army’s 2021 ouster of Suu Kyi triggered widespread peaceful protests that were crushed with deadly force and evolved into armed resistance.

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By GRANT PECK Associated Press