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Myanmar’s Suu Kyi appears in court in person for first time since coup

Aung San Suu Kyi.

May 24 (Reuters) - Myanmar's deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi appeared in person at a court hearing on Monday for the first time since her government was overthrown by the military nearly four months ago, her lawyers said.

Suu Kyi looked in good health during a 30-minute meeting with her legal team, but said she had no access to newspapers during detention and was only partially aware of what was happening outside, her legal team head, Khin Maung Zaw, told Reuters.

The ousted leader, 75, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her efforts to build democracy, is among more than 4,000 people detained since the Feb. 1 coup. She faces charges that range from illegally possessing walkie-talkie radios to violating a state secrets law, punishable by 14 years in prison.

Myanmar has been in chaos since the army took power, with daily protests, marches and strikes nationwide against the junta. It has responded with lethal force, killing more than 800 people, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activist group.

Suu Kyi “wished people good health” in her meeting with her lawyers and also made a reference to her National League for Democracy (NLD) party that could be dissolved soon.

“Our party grew out of the people so it will exist as long as people support it”, Khin Maung Zaw quoted Suu Kyi as saying.

Myanmar’s junta-appointed election commission will dissolve the NLD on the grounds that its victory in a November election was secured by fraud, media reported on Friday, quoting a commissioner. The accusations had been dismissed by the former electoral commission.

The commissioner also threatened action against “traitors” involved.

Suu Kyi said the only information she received from outside was when police asked her opinion on some matters, said Khin Maung Zaw. She refused to respond because she was unaware of the full situation, he said.

The legal team also met ousted president and co-defendant Win Myint to discuss the cases against him, Khin Maung Zaw said.

Since Monday’s hearing was to allow defendants to meet with their lawyers, the presiding judge adjourned the session until June 7, the lawyer said.

In his first interview with foreign media since the coup, junta leader Min Aung Hlaing had also said Suu Kyi was in good health as he disputed the number of people killed by security forces in protests since the coup.

General Min Aung Hlaing said in the May 20 interview that the actual casualty figure was about 300 and that 47 police had also been killed.

(Reporting by Reuters Staff Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Robert Birsel and Angus MacSwan)

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