Trial of Myanmar's Suu Kyi continues as Covid-19 cases spike

·2-min read
Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi was deposed by the military in February and faces an eclectic raft of charges

Ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi seemed in good health as she appeared in court Monday, her lawyer said, as her trial continued with the capital grappling with a Covid-19 spike.

The Nobel laureate has been largely invisible since being detained by the military in February, with a handful of court appearances in a special court in Naypyidaw her only link to the outside world.

The latest hearing comes after authorities reported 2,318 new confirmed infections -- with over a fifth of tests coming back positive -- the highest daily coronavirus caseload for months.

Eating inside restaurants in the military-built capital Naypyidaw was banned from Monday, and more restrictions are expected.

There had been no instruction regarding the virus from the court -- where mask-wearing is mandatory -- and "we are proceeding as usual", Min Min Soe, a member of Suu Kyi's legal team told reporters.

At Monday's hearing Suu Kyi's lawyers cross-examined witnesses for the prosecution who allege she flouted coronavirus restrictions during 2020 elections that her National League for Democracy (NLD) party won in a landslide, Min Min Soe said.

The special court also heard testimony Suu Kyi illegally imported and possessed walkie talkies.

She appeared "fresh and in good health", Min Min Soe added.

The Nobel laureate, 76, also faces separate charges of accepting illegal payments of gold and violating a colonial-era secrecy law. She could be jailed for more than a decade if convicted on all counts.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the generals ousted Suu Kyi's government in February, with pro-democracy protests met by a brutal military crackdown that has killed more than 880, according to a local monitoring group.

In some areas civilians have formed "defence forces" to combat the military, often using hunting rifles or makeshift weapons cobbled together from household items.

Twenty-five anti-regime fighters and civilians were killed during clashes, villagers in the central Sagaing region said Sunday, after military trucks entered their area and opened fire.

AFP was unable to confirm the toll.

State-run media offered a different account of the skirmish, which took place on Friday, saying the military was patrolling the area when they were ambushed.

Soldiers fended off "armed terrorists" and later found "four mortars and six percussion lock firearms", reported the Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper, which did not give a death toll in the village.