Seven Myanmar soldiers sentenced for Rohingya killings

Seven Myanmar soldiers sentenced for Rohingya killings

Charred debris of houses and vegetation are seen in the abandoned village of minority Rohingya Muslims in Inn Din are seen in March.

The journalists had been working on a Reuters investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men in the village of Inn Din, in western Myanmar's Rakhine state, during an army crackdown that has sent almost 700,000 people fleeing to Bangladesh.

Two Reuters journalists arrested while investigating a massacre of Rohingya Muslims will face trial in Myanmar after a court rejected a motion to drop the case against them.

The authorities told Reuters in February the military opened an internal investigation independently and that it is unrelated to the Reuters reporters who are accused of obtaining unrelated secret government papers.

In January, the army made a rare admission that its soldiers killed ten Rohingya villagers who were captured previous year in Inn Din village in northern Rakhine and accused of being terrorists.

The military admitted that the atrocity took place and Reuters later published the story while the reporters were in prison.

The Myanmar Army has denied most allegations of abuse against the Rohingyas despite worldwide condemnation.

Myanmar has rejected accusations of ethnic cleansing in its western state of Rakhine, saying its security forces launched a legitimate counter-insurgency operation on August 25 in response to Rohingya militant attacks.

"For the military personnel under the Military Act 71, four military personnel and three soldiers will be sentenced to 10 years in prison with hard labor and to be permanently expelled from the army", the statement said.

Police witnesses, however, have said the reporters were stopped and searched at a traffic checkpoint by officers who were unaware they were journalists and found to be holding documents relating to security force deployments in Rakhine. Buddhist villagers attacked some of them with swords and soldiers shot the others dead, the military had said.

The military's version of events is contradicted by accounts by Rakhine Buddhist and Rohingya Muslim witnesses.

The military said in a statement on December 18 that a mass grave containing 10 bodies of "Bengali terrorists" had been found on the outskirts of Inn Din village in northern Rakhine's Maungdaw region. And Rohingya witnesses told Reuters that soldiers plucked the 10 from among hundreds of men, women and children who had sought safety on a nearby beach.

Almost 700,000 Rohingya have crossed into southern Bangladesh since August, creating one of the world's largest refugee camps. If convicted, the charge carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

The two journalists are due in court again on April 20, which will be their 13th court appearance since their arrests on in Yangon on suspicion of receiving secret documents from police related to the conflict-torn Rakhine state.

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