Deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi is scheduled to make her first in-person appearance in a special courtroom in the capital Naypyidaw on May 24, her chief lawyer Khin Maung Zaw told RFA on Monday.
At a hearing on Monday, the presiding judge said that country’s Supreme Court issued a directive for a special courtroom be set up to hear the six cases against the former state counselor, who has been detained since the Feb. 1 military coup under various charges.
Aung San Suu Kyi has been charged in five cases in Naypyidaw and one in Yangon for allegedly violating the colonial-era Official Secrets Act, bribery, incitement and sedition, violation of telecommunication laws, possession of unlicensed walkie-talkie radios, and violating coronavirus protocols. Her legal team says the charges are groundless and spurious.
The most serious charge against the 75-year-old Nobel laureate for allegedly violating the Official Secrets Act carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.
“We were told that there won’t be any more video conferences but that she will appear in person,” he said. “The special court will be located … close to her residence in Naypyidaw. The hearing on May 24 will be for all six cases.”
Previous court hearings have been held via video conference, and court officials have refused to let Aung San Suu Kyi meet face-to-face with her attorneys.
Though attorneys on her defense team have asked the court to allow them to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi privately during the trial, they have not yet received a definitive answer, Khin Maung Zaw said.
“We are not sure whether we will be able to see her privately or not,” he said. “During court hearings held inside the prison, the accused are brought into the courtroom when the judge shows up, and then they are taken away as soon as the hearing ends [with] no chance for lawyers to meet their clients.”
“We have insisted that we’d like to meet with her privately, but we are still not sure if we will meet her,” he said.
Junta spokesman Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun told Russia’s RIA news agency in April that Aung San Suu Kyi was not allowed to see her lawyers for national security reasons, saying that the regime had information that protest leaders wanted to communicate with her through her legal team.
Khin Maung Zaw said accused persons have an undeniable right to meet with their defense lawyers.
During video-conference hearings for detained President Win Myint and Naypyidaw Council Chairman Myo Aung on Monday, court officials said the two politicians would be tried at the special court along with Aung San Suu Kyi.
Reported by Soe San Aung for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.