First cases against Myanmar's Suu Kyi to end late July, lawyer says

FILE PHOTO: ASEAN Plus Three Summit in Bangkok
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(Reuters) - Court proceedings in the first criminal cases involving deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi are set to finish late next month, her lawyer said on Monday, citing a decision by the presiding judge.

The prosecution has until June 28 to conclude its case while the defence has until July 26, and hearings would take place every Monday and Tuesday, Suu Kyi's chief lawyer, Khin Maung Zaw, told Reuters.

Suu Kyi, 75, who is being held at an undisclosed location, appeared at a hearing on Monday and was in good health, he said. She is among more than 4,000 people arrested since a coup on Feb. 1.

The charges against her include illegally importing handheld radios, breaking COVID-19 protocols and illegally accepting gold and payments of about $600,000.

Suu Kyi, who denies all allegations, is charged in a separate case with violating the Official Secrets Act, which is punishable by up to 14 years in jail.

On Monday, she asked the judge to intervene in that case, after court documents showed she would be representing herself, Khin Maung Zaw said.

"She told the persons who kept her in custody that she wouldn't defend her cases without a lawyer," he said.

The junta has struggled to impose order since it overthrew Suu Kyi's elected government and took back power after a decade of democratic and economic reforms in the once isolated state that was ruled by the military for nearly 50 years following a 1962 coup.

The Feb. 1 coup has triggered opposition by many members of society loath to see the return of rule by the generals.

Business and the bureaucracy have been paralysed by strikes, protests and boycotts, while fighting in the countryside between troops and militias has displaced tens of thousands of people.

"I think she knows roughly about the situation happening in Myanmar," said another member of the legal team, Thae Maung Maung.

Another lawyer, Min Min Soe, said Suu Kyi had asked about the coronavirus situation in Myanmar.

"She told us and the people to stay healthy," she said.

(Reporting by Reuters Staff; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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