Myanmar’s military rulers have accused the ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi of illegally accepting $ 600,000 (£430,000) and gold.
The allegation is the strongest yet levelled by the military since it overthrew Ms Suu Kyi and the country’s democratic leadership on 1 February.
No evidence was provided for the charge.
Meanwhile, rights group Amnesty has accused the military of going on a “killing spree”.
It said the military was using battlefield weapons on unarmed protesters and carrying out planned killings.
“These are not the actions of overwhelmed, individual officers making poor decisions,” said Amnesty’s Joanne Mariner. “These are unrepentant commanders already implicated in crimes against humanity, deploying their troops and murderous methods in the open.”
What is the latest from the protests?
At least seven more people were killed by security forces on Thursday, taking the total death toll to more than 60. Witnesses said some protesters had been shot in the head.
Six of those deaths took place in the central town of Myaing.
People in Myaing say this is the 1st time police opened fire on them. They say protests have always been peaceful. Today the cops detained 3 at a temple, and people went to protest at the station. They say police opened fire without warning. 6 dead, terrible injuries. For what?
— Jonathan Head (@pakhead) March 11, 2021
A further death took place in the city of Yangon’s North Dagon district, where 25-year-old Chit Min Thu died after being shot in the head.
“No-one will be in peace until this situation ends. They were so cruel with my son,” his mother Hnin Malar Aung told the AFP news agency.
What are the allegations against Suu Kyi?
Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun also accused President Win Myint and several cabinet ministers of corruption.
Ms Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won a landslide victory in the polls last year, but the military now claims the election was fraudulent.
Independent international observers have disputed the military’s claim – saying no irregularities were observed.
Ms Suu Kyi has been held for the past five weeks in an undisclosed location and faces several charges including causing “fear and alarm”, illegally possessing radio equipment, and breaking Covid-19 restrictions.
The illegal payments charge levelled on Thursday was the most serious so far. The value of the gold the military alleges she illegally accepted is roughly £450,000.
Myanmar has been gripped by street protests since the military seized control and detained Ms Suu Kyi. Her image has been held aloft by the protesters.
The UN, US and a host of other countries have condemned the killing of civilians in the crackdown against anti-coup protesters in Myanmar, and called on the authorities to exercise restraint.
The military has dismissed criticism of its actions, instead blaming Ms Suu Kyi for the violence.
- Myanmar, also known as Burma, became independent from Britain in 1948. For much of its modern history, it has been under military rule
- Restrictions began loosening from 2010 onwards, leading to free elections in 2015 and the installation of a government led by veteran opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi the following year
- In 2017, Myanmar’s army responded to attacks on police by Rohingya militants with a deadly crackdown, driving more than half a million Rohingya Muslims across the border into Bangladesh in what the UN later called a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”
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