Myanmar soldiers jailed for killing civilians in rare trial

Myanmar soldiers march in formation during the 67th Myanmar Independence Day Grand Military Review parade in Naypyidaw, in this file photo taken on January 4, 2015. (AFP)
Updated 21 January 2018
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Myanmar soldiers jailed for killing civilians in rare trial

BANGKOK: A Myanmar military tribunal has sentenced six soldiers to 10 years in prison with hard labor for killing three civilians in war-torn Kachin state, officials said Saturday, in a move welcomed by rights groups.
The Kachin state police office said the tribunal handed down the sentence Friday after finding the soldiers guilty of killing three ethnic Kachin civilians in September. The prosecution came after an internal investigation by the military.
Min Zaw, a Kachin state police officer, said that during the hearing the six confessed that they were responsible for the killings.
Kachin state is home to an ethnic rebel army that has been fighting the Myanmar military for more than seven years. More than 100,000 people have fled the fighting and live in refugee camps.
Calls to the military information office rang unanswered Saturday.
The three civilians were among a group of five detained by soldiers last May while they were heading back to their refugee camp after gathering firewood near Hka Pra Yang village. Two of the men were released and returned to the camp, while the bodies of the other three were found in a shallow grave three days later.
Rights groups said the prosecution of the six soldiers was rare and the first step down a long road to ending military impunity. Still they raised concerns about the trial being held behind closed doors.
“There’s a good reason for the military to keep these trials behind closed doors. It makes it a lot easier to cover up widespread and systematic abuses,” said David Baulk, Myanmar human rights specialist for Fortify Rights.
Myanmar’s military has been accused of violating human rights with impunity for decades, including in its conflicts with rebel groups.
Most recently it has been accused of abuses during what it calls “clearance operations” against ethnic Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state. More than 650,000 Rohingya have left Myanmar for Bangladesh, fleeing what the United Nations calls ethnic cleansing.
Myanmar’s military last week made a rare public admission of killing 10 Rohingya Muslims whose bodies were found in a mass grave in a village in northern Rakhine.


Polish parliament honors slain Gdansk mayor with prayer

Updated 16 January 2019
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Polish parliament honors slain Gdansk mayor with prayer

  • The attacker stabbed the mayor three times, in the heart and the abdomen
  • The stabbing happened while the mayor was onstage during a fundraising event

WARSAW: Polish lawmakers have paid respects to the popular mayor of Gdansk, who died after being stabbed by an ex-convict with a grudge.
Parliament members stood Wednesday for a minute of silence and prayed for Pawel Adamowicz, who died on Monday after being stabbed while onstage at a fundraising event the evening before.
Grzegorz Schetyna, the head of the opposition Civic Platform party, remembered Adamowicz as a courageous man who had devoted his life to his city, and blamed “insane hatred” for his killing.
The assailant stabbed Adamowicz three times in the heart and abdomen and told the crowd it was revenge against Civic Platform, which was in power when he was imprisoned for bank robberies. Adamowicz was a longtime member of the party but left it in 2015.