BANGKOK: A court in military-ruled Myanmar postponed its verdicts on Monday on two charges against ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi in which she is accused of importing and possessing walkie-talkies without following official procedures, a legal official familiar with the case said.

The case in the court in the capital, Naypyitaw, is among many brought against the 76-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate since the army seized power on Feb 1, ousting her elected government and arresting top members of her National League for Democracy party.

The court gave no reason for delaying the verdicts until Jan 10, according to the legal official, who have restricted the release of information about Suu Kyis trials.

Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide victory in last years general election, but the military said there was widespread electoral fraud, an assertion that independent poll watchers doubt.

Suu Kyi’s supporters and independent analysts say all the charges against her are politically motivated and an attempt to discredit her and legitimise the military’s seizure of power while keeping her from returning to politics. If found guilty of all the charges she faces, she could be sentenced to more than 100 years in prison.

Suu Kyi was convicted on Dec 6 on two other charges incitement and breaching Covid-19 restrictions and sentenced to four years imprisonment. Hours after the sentence was issued, the head of the military-installed government, Senior Gen Min Aung Hlaing, reduced it by half. She is being held by the military at an unknown location and state television reported that she would serve her sentence there.

Suu Kyi has been attending court hearings in prison clothes a white top and a brown longyi skirt provided by the authorities. The hearings are closed to the media and spectators and the prosecutors do not comment.

Her lawyers, who had been a source of information on the proceedings, were served with gag orders in October.

A charge under the Export-Import Law of having improperly imported the walkies-talkies was the first filed against Suu Kyi and served as the initial justification for her continued detention. A second charge of illegally possessing the radios was filed the following month.

The radios were seized from the gate of her residence and the barracks of her bodyguards during a search on Feb 1, the day she was arrested.

Suu Kyi’s lawyers argued that the radios were not in her personal possession and were legitimately used to help provide for her security, but the court declined to dismiss the charges.

The court on Monday also heard video testimony from the vice chairman of Suu Kyi’s party, Zaw Myint Maung, in another case against her involving alleged violation of Covid-19 restrictions during last year’s election campaign, the legal official said.

Zaw Myint Maung, who had been unable to appear in court earlier for health reasons, testified that people had gathered to see her when she visited Shwe Kyar Pin Ward during the campaign because they respect her, and it wasn’t a violation of virus restrictions, the official said.

The offense falls under the Natural Disaster Management Law and the maximum penalty is three years in prison and a fine.

Published in Dawn, December 28th, 2021

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