June 14 (UPI) -- The Myanmar military started its trial against ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday on charges that could remove her public life.
The military arrested Suu Kyi in February during a coup after accusing her and her party of election fraud. Since then, the military has slapped her with seven criminal charges that her lawyers say are all politically motivated.
Two of the charges relate to illegally imported walkie-talkies, two other charges accuse her of violating pandemic-related rules. She faces other charges of mishandling state secrets, intent to incite unrest and corruption.
Suu Kyi, 75, would remain in prison for more than 20 years if convicted on the charges, her attorney, Khin Maung Zaw, said.
Zaw said Monday's hearing ran for six hours, with the prosecution dominating the trial so far with several witnesses testifying.
"The criminal charges against Aung San Suu Kyi are bogus and politically motivated by the intention of nullifying her landslide election victory in the November 2020 election and prevent her from ever running for office again," said Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch's Asian deputy director in a statement.
"All of these charges should be dropped, resulting in her immediate and unconditional release. But sadly, with restrictions on access to her lawyers, and the case being hard in front of a court that is wholly beholden to the military junta, there is little likelihood she will receive a fair trial."
Her National League for Democracy party handily won elections in November for the second time, drawing the ire of the military which voided the results and took over the government. Since then, massive public protests have all but paralyzed the country.
The military has often confronted the protest with violence, killing more than 800 in the crackdown while arresting nearly 5,000 demonstrators, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.