Defence lawyers argued that Suu Kyi could not be held responsible for statements on her party’s Facebook page, because she was already in detention.

Suu Kyi’s lawyers were served with gag orders in October forbidding them from releasing information.
Suu Kyi’s lawyers were served with gag orders in October forbidding them from releasing information. (Reuters)

A special court in Myanmar’s capital has sentenced the country’s ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, to two years in prison after finding her guilty of incitement and violating coronavirus restrictions.

Her jail term was originally for four years but was later “pardoned to two years” by the junta chief Min Aung Hlaing, state media said on Monday.

Monday’s sentencing was the first in a series of cases in which the 76-year-old Nobel laureate is being prosecuted since the army seized power on February 1.

A small group of protesters rallied against Myanmar's government in Mandalay, hours after the guilty verdicts were announced.

The protesters flashed the three-finger protest salute as they chanted slogans asking for the release of their leaders and other colleagues.

READ MORE: World reacts to 'politically motivated' jailing of Myanmar's Suu Kyi

Incitement and coronavirus charges

The incitement case involved statements posted on her party’s Facebook page after she and other party leaders had already been detained by the military.

Meanwhile the coronavirus charge involved a campaign appearance ahead of elections in November last year which her party overwhelmingly won.

The army, whose allied party lost many seats in the election, claimed massive voting fraud, but independent election observers did not detect any major irregularities.

Defence lawyers argued that Suu Kyi and co-defendant former President Win Myint could not be held responsible for the Facebook statements, which criticised the takeover and suggested in broad terms that it be resisted, because they were already in detention.

Win Myint was sentenced to a total of four years and former mayor of Naypyitaw Myo Aung to two years.

READ MORE: Myanmar military charges Suu Kyi with fraud over 2020 election

Ongoing charges

Judgment on Suu Kyi’s second count of violating coronavirus restrictions is scheduled for December 14. The maximum penalty for each count is three years’ imprisonment and a fine.

Each of the corruption charges has a maximum penalty of 15 years’ imprisonment and a fine.

A trial on a fifth corruption charge has not yet started, and state media last week announced a sixth charge has also been filed against Suu Kyi.

The latest charge accuses her and Win Myint of corruption in granting permits to rent and buy a helicopter.

READ MORE: Myanmar forces 'deliberately' killed dozens of anti-coup protesters

Source: AP