Pyin Oo Lwin — A district court in Pyin Oo Lwin Township sentenced a child rapist and murderer from Madaya Township to the death penalty.
“He [the offender] admitted that he raped and killed a girl and the court sentenced him in line with the law,” explained Daw Htay Htay Maw, a Pyin Oo Lwin District court spokesperson.
Ko Phyo Htet Aung, 23, was arrested on Feb. 13 after raping and killing a 2-year-old girl from Mway Kadoseik village, some five miles from Madaya Township, Pyin Oo Lwin District, Mandalay Division.
The girl’s parents left her at her grandmother’s house on Feb. 13 while they went out to collect firewood but found her missing when they returned. The girl was found later that day unconscious in a banana plantation on the outskirts of the village after she had been raped. She died at the hospital.
Ko Phyo Htet Aung was apprehended by locals and handed over to police, who detained him on charges of rape and murder.
“The crime that Ko Phyo Htet Aung admitted to was so brutal and inhumane that the court decided to give him the death penalty,” explained the spokesperson.
However, the court said the sentence can be appealed to a higher court within seven days.
“The case interested the public because the victim was a minor. As a lawyer for the victim’s family, I think the court did the right thing by setting this precedent for sentencing in rape cases,” said U lawyer Wai Phyo Maung Maung.
Since the death penalty has not been practiced in the country for decades, lawyers said that whether the culprit is killed or left to rot in prison will be decided by the law (upon appeal if that course is taken), as well as prison laws and regulations.
Madaya locals led by the parents and family of the victim signed a petition and staged a protest days after the child died, urging the authorities to issue death sentences to rapists, particularly child rapists.
“We are satisfied with the court’s decision. I believe that other parents won’t have to suffer as we have in the future,” said U Hlaing Zin Myo, the victim’s father.
In February, two rape cases against children under five years old were recorded in Mandalay, while children under 13 were also raped and killed in Yenangyaung, Minhla and Yangon.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Home Affairs released on Feb. 15, the number of reported rape cases of children under 16 has risen by more than 200 over the past year.
Amid the rise of campaigns calling for the death penalty for child rapists, a mob gathered at a police station in Mandalay to confront the police and urge them to hand over an alleged child rapist.