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Myanmar’s High Court declines to hear Suu Kyi’s appeals in 5 cases where sentences already commuted

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BANGKOK (AP) — Myanmar’s Supreme Court has declined to hear special appeals from the country’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi against her convictions in five cases of which the head of the military-installed government already pardoned her earlier this month, a legal official said Thursday.

Despite the amnesty, Suu Kyi’s legal team is continuing with the appeal process to prove her innocence, the legal official said.

The special appeals— which were rejected by the court in the capital Naypyitaw on Tuesday — include violating coronavirus restrictions, illegally importing and possessing walkie-talkies, as well as sedition, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity as he is not authorized to release information about the decision.

These were Suu Kyi’s earliest convictions after she was arrested when the army seized power from her elected government in February 2021.

Her supporters and independent legal experts say a slew of charges against her, mostly brought by the military government, were politically motivated in an attempt to discredit her and legitimize the military’s takeover while preventing her from returning to politics.

On Aug. 1, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the head of the military government, issued a clemency order pardoning Suu Kyi for the five cases for which she received six years’ prison time in all. This has reduced the total prison time the 78-year-old former leader has received from the original 33 for 19 cases in all to 27 years for 14 other cases.

The order was issued as part of a broader amnesty granted to more than 7,000 prisoners to mark a religious holiday in the Buddhist-majority country.

There had been reports last month that Suu Kyi might be transferred to house arrest as part of the clemency, but the military-controlled government has not confirmed them. The legal official said her lawyers sent her food and other essentials on Monday via officials from Naypyitaw prison.

The legal official, who is familiar with the cases filed against Suu Kyi, said the court set Sept. 5 to “hear on whether to accept” six other special appeals filed on Suu Kyi’s behalf to reduce her sentence. The six cases include allegations of her abusing authority to rent parcels of land and property in Naypyitaw and Yangon, the country’s biggest city, at below-market prices for a foundation named after her mother that she chaired.

Special appeals are usually the final stage of the plea process in Myanmar. However, they can be re-examined by the Special Appeals Tribunal or the Plenary Tribunal if the chief justice sees an aspect of public interest.

Appeals of Suu Kyi’s convictions on the charges including election fraud, breaching the official secrets acts and six other corruption cases are still being processed, several legal officials have said.

Her legal team has faced several hurdles, including being unable to meet with her.

They have applied five times for permission to meet with Suu Kyi since they last saw her in person in December, but have not received any response, the legal official said Thursday.

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