Seven Myanmar soldiers sentenced to hard labor for killing of Rohingya Muslims | News | DW | 10.04.2018
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Seven Myanmar soldiers sentenced to hard labor for killing of Rohingya Muslims

Myanmar's army has sentenced seven soldiers to 10 years hard labor for the killing of 10 Rohingya people during last year's military assault. The International Criminal Court is seeking jurisdiction over deportations.

Seven Myanmar soldiers were sentenced on Tuesday to 10 years hard labor at a "prison in a remote area" after being found guilty of the extrajudicial killings of 10 Rohingya Muslim men.

According to a statement by a Myanmar military chief, the seven soldiers, among them four officers, were sentenced under Section 71 of the country's military act as the Rohingya victims "were not arrested and punished according to procedures."

Read more: Myanmar's Rohingya: A history of forced exoduses

Myanmar's government admitted in January that troops, along with Buddhist villagers in Rakhine state, killed 10 Rohingya Muslim men in the village of Inn Dinn back in September.

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Nobel laureates call for action against Rohingya 'genocide'

The incident came as part of the Myanmar military's brutal crackdown against the country's Muslim minority, which sent almost 700,000 Rohingya people fleeing across the border into neighboring Bangladesh.

Rights groups, however, maintain that the 10 deaths are just the tip of the iceberg of alleged murders, rapes and arson attacks carried out by Myanmar security forces. The UN has labelled the crackdown on the Rohingya as "ethnic cleansing." However, the Inn Dinn incident is the only atrocity the military has admitted so far.

Read more: UN: Rohingya subjected to forced starvation by Myanmar authorities

Myanmar journalists remain held for Inn Dinn investigation

Despite the Myanmar military's admission over the bloody Inn Dinn incident, two Myanmar Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, remain in custody for possessing confidential documentation related to the massacre.

The report is believed to describe how troops and Buddhist villagers killed the 10 Rohingya men before dumping their bodies in a mass grave. It also included photos of the victims, hands bounds and kneeling on the floor before being executed, as well as of their bodies afterwards.

The arrest of the journalists has provoked a global outcry. The sentencing of the soldiers, however, could see the court rule on their defense lawyer's request to throw out the prosecution's case as early as Wednesday.

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UN official says Myanmar ethnic cleansing is ongoing

War crimes prosecutors seeks jurisdiction for Rohingya deportations

The chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague late on Monday asked judges whether she could launch a probe into the mass deportations of Rohingya people from Myanmar into Bangladesh.

ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda contended that "consistent and credible reports ... indicate that since August 2017 more than 670,000 Rohingya, lawfully present in Myanmar, have been intentionally deported across the international border into Bangladesh."

Opening a preliminary enquiry into the plight of the Rohingya communities could prove a complicated task for the ICC, since Myanmar is not a member of the international court and is unlikely to co-operate.

Read more: Myanmar 'militarizing' razed Rohingya villages in Rakhine – Amnesty

Bangladesh, however, is a member of the court, and, given the cross-border nature of the issue, Bensouda argued that a ruling in favor of ICC jurisdiction would be in line with its legal principles.

"This is not an abstract question, but a concrete one, affecting whether the Court may exercise jurisdiction ... to investigate and, if necessary, prosecute," she said in her filing.

dm/jm (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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