Military Court Sentences Soldier to 7 Years for Misconduct

By Nang Seng Nom & Lawi Weng 18 June 2015

RANGOON — A military court in northern Burma this week sentenced a Burmese soldier to seven years in prison on three charges of misconduct, but dismissed allegations that he attempted to rape a 73-year-old ethnic Kachin woman.

The 24-year-old soldier was a member of the Burma Army’s Light Infantry Battalion No. 438, stationed Winemaw Township in conflict-torn Kachin State. Following accusations of the attempted rape and demands for a civilian trial, he was removed from service and brought before a military court.

Police informed the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC), a local religious humanitarian aid group, that the soldier was sentenced on Monday after being found guilty of trespassing, use of illegal drugs and violation of the military code of conduct.

Htoi San Raw, a Kachin women’s rights activist who is affiliated with KBC, told The Irrawaddy on Thursday that the community is dissatisfied with the outcome, renewing calls for a civilian trial and sexual assault charges.

“We asked [the Burma Army] to hand him over to the public courts, but they didn’t do it,” Htoi San Raw said. “If we can bring him to a public court we can charge him for trying to rape someone.”

Last month, hundreds gathered in protest in the remote township to demand justice for the alleged assault on an elderly Kachin woman on April 13 of this year.

Further south, in the northern reaches of Shan State, Kachin villagers still await justice for the alleged rape and murder of two young Kachin volunteer teachers in late January. A government-led investigation is still ongoing amid accusations by local villagers that the gruesome act may have been committed by Burma Army troops.