Aung San Suu Kyi testifies in court for first time since Myanmar coup

The junta has threatened to dissolve the National League for Democracy party

Ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi testified for the first time in a junta court on Tuesday, four months after being put on trial by the military, a source with knowledge of the case told AFP.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the coup on February 1, with nationwide protests and more than 1,100 people killed by security forces, a local monitoring group says.

Ms Suu Kyi went on trial in June facing a number of charges that could see her sentenced to jail for decades.

On Tuesday she "gave her statement at the court by herself" in response to charges of incitement related to two statements in February criticising the coup, the source said.

The contents of her testimony "cannot be revealed" until the court has certified them, which is expected next week, the source said.

Media are barred from attending Ms Suu Kyi's trial at the special court in the military-built capital Naypyidaw and the junta banned her legal team from speaking to the media.

Before the ban, her lawyers said the Nobel laureate, 76, would not call any defence witnesses at her trial and would represent herself.

Ms Suu Kyi’s co-defendants in the case are Win Myint, who was president in her government, and Naypyitaw’s former mayor, Myo Aung.

Their lawyers have repeatedly tried but failed to have the incitement charge dropped.

The evidence submitted by the prosecution consists of statements posted on a Facebook page of Ms Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party. Lawyers for Ms Suu Kyi and the former president have said they cannot be held responsible for the statements, which criticised the takeover and suggested that it be resisted, because they were already in detention.

Ms Suu Kyi has been detained since February 1, when the army seized power and stopped her and her party from beginning a second five-year term after a landslide victory in last November’s general election. The military says it acted because of large-scale electoral fraud, an allegation that does not appear to be well-supported.

The junta has threatened to dissolve the National League for Democracy and continues to wage a bloody campaign against opponents to its rule.

Myanmar topped the agenda of Tuesday's talks between leaders from the Association of South-east Asian Nations, which has come under international pressure to broker a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

The generals boycotted the summit after ASEAN insisted Myanmar send a "non-political representative" instead of junta chief Min Aung Hlaing.

The rare rebuke came after Myanmar rebuffed requests that a special envoy meet "all stakeholders" in the country a phrase seen to include deposed leader Ms Suu Kyi.

Myanmar, ruled by the military for most of the time since a 1962 coup, has been a thorn in ASEAN's side since it joined in 1997.

Elections in 2015 won overwhelmingly by the National League for Democracy ushered in civilian rule but this was cut short by the latest coup.

Updated: October 26th 2021, 4:15 PM
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