A protester holds a poster of Aung San Suu Kyi during a candlelight vigil in Yangon on March 13, 2021. AFP
Myanmar's military-installed government has filed five new corruption charges against ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi in connection with granting permits to rent and buy a helicopter, a legal official said on Friday.
The Nobel laureate, 76, has been detained since the February 1 coup last year which triggered mass protests and a bloody crackdown on dissent with more than 1,400 civilians killed, according to a local monitoring group.
Suu Kyi, who has been detained since last February’s military takeover, is already being tried on five other corruption charges. Each is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine.
The charges were levelled against Suu Kyi on Friday afternoon and related to the hire, maintenance and purchase of a helicopter, the sources said.
Former Myanmar president U Win Myint was also hit with the same charges, they said.
The coup last year which triggered mass protests dissent with more than 1,400 civilians killed.
She has also been charged with other offenses, and has been sentenced to six years' imprisonment after being convicted of illegally importing and possessing walkie-talkies and violating coronavirus restrictions.
Her supporters and rights groups say the cases against her were contrived by the military to justify its takeover and prevent her from returning to politics.
The government has rejected the criticism.
"No one is above the law. I just want to say that she would be judged according to the law,” government spokesperson Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun said when asked about the matter at a news conference Friday.
The daughter of an independence hero, Suu Kyi spent nearly two decades enduring long stretches of house arrest under the former military regime.
Her time in office was marred by her government's handling of the Rohingya refugee crisis in which hundreds of thousands escaped to Bangladesh in 2017 as they faced rapes, arson and extrajudicial killings at the hands of the Myanmar military.
Before the coup, Suu Kyi was on the cusp of beginning another five-year term as the country's de facto leader after the National League for Democracy won a landslide in November 2020 polls.
Western countries have condemned the coup and called for an end to the violence and for the release of Suu Kyi and others. Asian neighbours have offered to help find a solution to the crisis.
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