Jailed Australian economist testifies in secretive Myanmar trial

Sean Turnell, who was an adviser to elected chief Aung San Suu Kyi, pleaded not responsible as listening to bought underway.

An Australian tutorial and financial adviser to Myanmar’s elected chief Aung San Suu Kyi, who was detained after the army seized energy final yr, has testified in a army court docket for the primary time.

Sean Turnell, an economist at Macquarie University in Sydney, is being tried with Aung San Suu Kyi on prices of breaking the nation’s official secrets and techniques act.

Turnell was arrested 5 days after the coup on February 1 and is presently being held in jail in Naypyidaw, the capital, as is Aung San Suu Kyi. Three of her former Cabinet members are on trial with them at a closed-door court docket arrange within the jail.

A authorized official conversant in Thursday’s proceedings instructed the Associated Press information company that Turnell denied the allegations in opposition to him and pleaded not responsible. Further particulars weren’t out there as a result of his legal professionals have been barred from speaking in regards to the case. All of the trials involving Aung San Suu Kyi have been held below comparable restrictions.

The authorized official, who spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of he isn’t authorised to launch info, stated Turnell and his co-defendants gave the impression to be in good well being.

The actual particulars of the alleged offence within the case have additionally not been made public, though Myanmar state tv, citing authorities statements, stated final yr that Turnell had entry to “secret state financial information” and had tried to flee the nation.

Turnell can be being prosecuted below Myanmar’s immigration legislation, which carries a punishment of between six months and 5 years in jail.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong stated in June that Turnell’s launch was a “priority” for the federal government, and indicated that new sanctions in opposition to Myanmar had been into consideration.

“Let’s face it, it’s trumped-up charges by an authoritarian regime that wants to use Sean to discredit Aung San Suu Kyi. That’s what it’s all about,” Tim Harcourt, a pal and fellow economist, was quoted as saying by the Australian public broadcaster, ABC.

The choose adjourned Thursday’s proceedings till subsequent week, when Aung San Suu Kyi is to testify. Aung San Suu Kyi, who stays vastly in style, is going through quite a few prices that embody corruption and election fraud. The 76-year-old has already been discovered responsible and jailed on corruption prices. The worldwide group has dismissed the trials as farcical and demanded her speedy launch.

Sean Turnell On The Stage With Other Speakers At An Eu-Myanmar Summit In 2017 When He Was Adviser To Aung San Suu Kyi
Turnell, pictured proper, was an financial adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi and was arrested 5 days after the army seized energy [File: Hein Htet/EPA]

Myanmar has been in turmoil for the reason that coup, which led to a mass civil disobedience motion and nationwide protests. Some 2,185 individuals have been killed within the army’s crackdown on these against its rule, triggering armed resistance that some United Nations specialists have characterised as civil warfare.

Japanese legislator visits

There was no point out of Turnell’s trial within the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar whose entrance web page on Friday carried a report on a gathering between coup chief Min Aung Hlaing and Japanese ruling occasion legislator Hiromichi Watanabe.

The go to, which Watanabe’s workplace confirmed occurred from August 7-12, comes simply days after Japanese filmmaker Toru Kubota was arrested whereas overlaying a protest in Yangon.

State media made no point out of whether or not Kubota’s detention was mentioned, saying Watanabe and Min Aung Hlaing talked about bilateral relations, together with plans to “grow cherry plants” and the “spreading of false information regarding Myanmar’s political situation among foreign countries, and need for people in Japan to know the true situations”.

Tokyo has referred to as for the discharge of 26-year-old Kubota, who entered Myanmar on a vacationer visa and was arrested on July 30 in Yangon. He faces prices of breaking an immigration legislation and inspiring dissent in opposition to the ruling army.

Toru Kubota
Japanese documentary filmmaker Toru Kubota was detained by the army as he filmed an anti-coup protest in Yangon [File: Issei Kato/Reuters]

Yuki Kitazumi, a Japanese freelance journalist, was freed in Myanmar final yr after initially being arrested and charged with spreading false information by overlaying anti-coup protests.

The army stated his launch was in recognition of the 2 international locations’ shut ties.

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