Ousted Myanmar leader faces new corruption charges that her lawyer slams as 'absurd'
Aung San Suu Kyi already faces range of other charges, could face up to 15 years in prison
New corruption cases have been opened against Myanmar's deposed elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other former officials from her government, the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar said on Thursday.
The cases are the latest of a series brought against Suu Kyi, 75, who was overthrown by the army on Feb. 1 in a coup that has plunged the Southeast Asian country into chaos, with daily protests and strikes and unrest in far-flung regions that anti-junta militias said had claimed the lives of 37 soldiers on Thursday.
The state newspaper quoted the Anti-Corruption Commission as saying the accusations related to the misuse of land for the charitable Daw Khin Kyi Foundation, which she chaired, as well as earlier accusations of accepting money and gold.
It said case files had been opened against Suu Kyi and several other officials from the capital Naypyidaw at police stations on Wednesday.
"She was found guilty of committing corruption using her rank. So she was charged under Anti-Corruption Law section 55," the paper said. Those found guilty can face up to 15 years in prison.
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Lawyer calls charges 'absurd'
The lead lawyer for Suu Kyi in several other cases said that as far as he was aware, the corruption investigations were continuing and were not before any court. He described the accusations as "absurd."
"She might have defects but personal greed and corruption are not her traits. Those who accuse her of greed and corruption are spitting towards the sky," Khin Maung Zaw said in a message to Reuters.
The Daw Khin Kyi Foundation was set up in the name of her late mother to help develop education, health and welfare in Myanmar.
Cases Suu Kyi already faced ranged from the illegal possession of walkie-talkie radios to breaking the Official Secrets Act. Her supporters say the cases are politically motivated.
The army overthrew Suu Kyi in January this year, saying her party had cheated in November elections, an accusation rejected by the previous election commission and international monitors.
But the army has failed to establish control, with peaceful and violent resistance paralyzing the economy and guerrilla attacks on security forces in borderlands met by artillery and airstrikes, including in civilian areas.
Fighting has raged between the military and newly formed People's Defence Forces, one of which on Thursday said it had killed 17 government soldiers in a battle in Chin State, bordering India.
Another, the Chinland Defence Force, on its Facebook page said its fighters had also killed 10 troops near Hakha and issued a demand to the junta to release all people detained in Chin State or face a stronger backlash.
In the Sagaing region, militias ambushed five military vehicles, killing 10 soldiers, the Irrawaddy news site reported, citing residents.
Reuters is unable to independently verify the claims and a military spokesman did not respond to calls seeking comment. State-run MRTV made no mention of the incidents in its nightly newscast.
Fighting in northeast and northwest of Myanmar has forced more than 100,000 people to flee, according to the United Nations, some to the Indian states of Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland, where authorities fear pro-democracy fighters may have joined refugees.