SINGAPORE—Authorities in Myanmar have charged
Aung San Suu Kyi
with corruption, the latest in a raft of criminal cases brought against her since the country’s military overthrew her government in a coup and returned the Southeast Asian nation to authoritarian rule.
Ms. Suu Kyi has been detained since the Feb. 1 coup and is preparing to face trial next week on the other charges against her. Those charges include illegally importing walkie-talkies, violating pandemic-related restrictions and making statements that could induce members of the public to commit offenses against the state. Some of them carry lengthy prison sentences that could potentially end her decadeslong career in public life.
Ms. Suu Kyi was initially detained at her residence in the capital Naypyitaw but was moved to an unknown location the evening of May 23, according to her legal team, who say they don’t know her current whereabouts.
An announcement in a state-controlled newspaper on Thursday said Ms. Suu Kyi and three other former officials were charged with corruption. Ms. Suu Kyi is accused of unlawfully obtaining land for a charitable foundation she chairs and for a vocational school. She is also accused of illegally accepting $600,000 in cash along with roughly 25 pounds of gold from another former official, the announcement said.
Khin Maung Zaw, a lawyer for Ms. Suu Kyi, dismissed the accusations as absurd and groundless.
“Those who accuse her of greed and corruption are spitting towards the sky,” he said in a statement.
Ms. Suu Kyi governed the country as its de facto civilian leader from 2016 until this year’s coup as Myanmar undertook a transition from military rule to democracy. Before that, she spent almost 15 years under house arrest for her pro-democracy activism.
The corruption case against her has been registered by police but hasn’t entered the court system, the lawyer, Mr. Khin Maung Zaw, said. Trials for the other cases against Ms. Suu Kyi will begin on Monday and are expected to conclude by mid-August, he said.
Ms. Suu Kyi is among thousands of people detained since the coup, including politicians, activists, artists and others. More than 4,780 people are currently in custody and most are being held in undisclosed locations, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a nonprofit that monitors arrests and fatalities.
At least 850 others have been killed since the coup, the group says. Many were shot by security forces during pro-democracy protests that swept the country since the coup.
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