Courts Sentence 4 to Prison Terms For Meikhtila Violence

By Zarni Mann 12 July 2013

RANGOON — Courts in Meikhtila sentenced two Muslims and two Buddhist men to five years in prison on Thursday and Friday for burning and destroying buildings during an outburst of inter-communal violence in the Mandalay Division town in March, according to lawyers involved in the cases.

Kyaw Kyaw a.k.a Harnit, and Than Lwin, a.k.a Mohamed Harnit, were each sentenced to five years imprisonment on charges of arson and destruction of public property.

“The jury said they have to serve their prison terms concurrently, so they [effectively] received only five years” in prison, said a lawyer from Meikhtila Township Court.

A Buddhist man named Nga Yae, a.k.a Yae Win Naing, was also sentenced to five years imprisonment on the same charges on Friday, said a lawyer, adding that he believed that the court’s verdict had been fair.

“We can say the justice is fair enough for the defendants as they have to serve prison terms concurrently, 5 years, instead of serving a total of 15 years,” said the lawyer, who declined to be named.

He added that family members and the public had not been allowed to attend the trials because of “security reasons” and to “avoid disturbances.”

On Thursday evening, the court reportedly sentenced another Buddhist man, whose name could not be confirmed, to five years in prison for arson.

Lawyers said another 21 suspects were scheduled to be sentenced in coming weeks.

State-owned media have reported that more than 20 suspects involved in the Meikhtila unrest had been sentenced to lengthy prison terms earlier this week.

More than 120 suspects were reportedly apprehended following Buddhist mob attacks on Muslim areas in Meikhitla in late March. The violence killed 40 people dead, injured 60 and destroyed more than 2,000 homes.

A Meikhtila district police officer said that 15 suspects had been released in recent weeks for lack of evidence, including two Buddhist men who were set free on Friday because the court found they did not take part in the unrest.