Myanmar court jails Suu Kyi, Australian economist for 3 years – source

Date:

Sept. 29 (Reuters) – A court in military-ruled Myanmar on Thursday sentenced ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her former economic adviser, Australian Sean Turnell, to three years in prison for violating a secrets law, it said. a source familiar with the procedure.

Both pleaded not guilty to violating the Secrets Act, which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years.

“Three years each, no forced labour,” said the source, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue.

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Suu Kyi, Turnell and several members of her economics team have been arrested among thousands since the military overthrew her elected government in a coup early last year, including politicians, lawmakers, bureaucrats, students and journalists.

Turnell has also been charged with immigration violations, for which he could face up to five years in prison. The court is expected to rule on that case on Thursday, according to a second source and media reports.

Nobel laureate Suu Kyi has already been sentenced to at least 23 years in prison in separate cases, mainly related to corruption charges.

She denies all allegations against her.

Opponents of the military say the charges against Suu Kyi aim to prevent her from ever re-entering politics and to test the military’s grip on power.

A spokesman for the junta did not respond to calls for comment on Thursday. The junta maintains that Myanmar’s courts are independent and that those arrested will be given a fair trial.

Turnell, also a professor of economics at Macquarie University in Australia, has been incarcerated a few days after the coup.

His wife, Ha Vu, who lives in Australia, said she and her family were “heartbroken” at the verdict and called for deportation.

“Sean has been one of Myanmar’s biggest supporters for more than 20 years and has worked tirelessly to strengthen Myanmar’s economy. Please consider the contributions … and deport him now,” she said in a Facebook post.

Australia called for Turnell’s release.

“The Australian government has consistently dismissed the charges against Professor Turnell. (It) rejects today’s court ruling…and calls for his immediate release,” Foreign Secretary Penny Wong said in a statement.

Australian consular officers charged with assisting Turnell were barred from court, Wong said.

Thursday’s sentencing took place in a closed court in the capital Naypyitaw. The defendants’ exact crime under the official Secrets Act remains unclear, although a source previously said Turnell’s crime “relates to an allegation that he had government documents”.

An analyst at the International Crisis Group think tank, Richard Horsey, called the proceedings “a show trial”.

“For Sean, the hope must now be that – after being incarcerated for almost 20 months – he will be released quickly from this terrible ordeal and reunited with his family,” he said.

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Reporting by Reuters personnel; Written by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Ed Davies, Robert Birsel

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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