A senior aide to Myanmar’s ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been handed the maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for high treason by a military tribunal, his family has revealed.
U Win Htein, 79, has become the first high-ranking member of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party to be tried and sentenced by the junta that came to power via military coup on February 1. The NLD is led by Aung San Suu Kyi.
Htein’s family swiftly condemned the sentencing as an “injustice”.
“It’s not a surprise but it’s a sad and outrageous thing to hear about the ridiculous sentencing. Perpetrators of this injustice will be held accountable for this,” his daughter, Chit Suu Win Htein, told reporters.
The two-judge hearings of the special tribunal, following an order from Myanmar’s junta-controlled Supreme Court, have been held behind closed doors with no journalists allowed.
The legal team is to file an appeal, Win Htein’s lawyer told the media on Friday.
A Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former State Counsellor of Myanmar, Suu Kyi also faces a number of charges such as illegal importation and possession of walkie-talkies, breaching coronavirus rules and accepting bribes. The ousted leader also faces separate unnamed charges which are more serious and related to alleged violations of the Official Secrets Act.
Aung Suu Kyi and some of her closest supporters were arrested and deposed after the junta declared the November 2020 general election – won by the NLD party – annulled and accused the NLD of abusing its administrative power. The internationally condemned military coup in Myanmar drew immediate nationwide protests opposing the junta. The ensuing crackdown has claimed the lives of around 1,100 people, according to figures compiled by the nonprofit group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.