Meanwhile deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi has suffered a legal setback after a judge denied her lawyers’ motion to disqualify prosecution testimony against her on a sedition charge.
Myanmar's authorities will free around 700 prisoners from Yangon’s Insein jail, in a release that is expected to include some of the thousands of people detained for opposing military rule.
Insein prison chief Zaw Zaw said on Wednesday that he did not have a list of those being released, but BBC Burmese language news reported it would include people accused of incitement after speaking out against the coup.
A crowd of people gathered ahead of the release outside the Insein prison, a colonial-era jail on the outskirts of the commercial hub of Yangon, photographs on social media showed.
The Myanmar Now news portal reported that across the country about 2,000 prisoners would be released. A prisons department official declined to comment.
Since the junta ousted the elected government of Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, authorities have faced daily strikes that have paralysed official and private business, while ethnic insurgencies, that have beset Myanmar for decades, have also flared up.
Many people have been arrested under sect ion 505A of the penal code, which criminalises comments that could cause fear or spread false news and is punishable by up to three years in jail.
WATCH: Officials from #Yangon’s Insein jail - where some 700 prisoners are set to be freed - start setting up barricades outside the premises— Leong Wai Kit (@LeongWaiKitCNA) June 30, 2021
They have also locked the main gate to the prison
Country-wide, some 2,000 people set to be freed from today pic.twitter.com/4CM8niUe5J
Over 880 people killed
More than 5,200 people are being held in detention, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activist group. It also says 883 people have been killed - a figure challenged by the junta.
On Tuesday, the army run Myawaddy television said authorities had dropped charges against 24 celebrities who had been declared wanted under the anti-incitement law after anti-government comments.
Actors, sportspeople, social media influencers, doctors and teachers have been among hundreds of people listed as wanted for opposing the junta.
Suu Kyi, 76, along with other members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party have been held in detention since the military overthrew her elected civilian government.
AAPP DAILY UPDATE (29/06)— AAPP (Burma) (@aapp_burma) June 29, 2021
883 killed by this junta
6421 total arrested since coup
5224 currently detained/sentenced
1988 evading arrest warrant
releases https://t.co/9QOMkZJbv0 pic.twitter.com/qxJQwlRcsL
Court denies bid by Suu Kyi to disqualify testimony
Aung San Suu Kyi suffered a legal setback Tuesday when a judge denied her lawyers’ motion to disqualify prosecution testimony against her on a sedition charge, her defence team said.
The court, however, said it would allow the issue to be referred to the High Court and would suspend testimony until a ruling is issued. Ousted President Win Myint and the former mayor of Naypyitaw, Myo Aung, her close political allies, are co-defendants in the charge.
The court will continue to hear prosecution testimony on other charges Suu Kyi faces: that she illegally imported walkie-talkies for her bodyguards’ use and used those radios without a license, and violated Covid-19 pandemic restrictions on two occasions during the 2020 election campaign.
The military said it took power after accusing Suu Kyi's party of a manipulated vote that swept it to power in a November poll, though the election commission at the time rejected its complaints.
The NLD said it won fairly.