YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — A court in western Myanmar has sentenced to death a man arrested for his part in an attack on a border guard post that triggered a crackdown by security forces on the country's Muslim ethnic Rohingya minority.
The state-owned Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported Tuesday that the Sittwe District Court sentenced a man named Uruma for murder for the Oct. 9 attack on an outpost on Rakhine state's border with Bangladesh that killed one officer.
Attacks on two other outposts that same night killed eight other guards and resulted in the attackers seizing a cache of war weapons. The government responded with counterinsurgency operations in northern Rakhine that human rights groups charge has involved rapes, the burning of homes and the killings of possibly hundreds of civilians. The government denies the allegations, but has instituted an official investigation in the wake of a detailed report from the U.N.'s human rights agency alleging serious abuses by the security forces.
The newspaper story said Uruma — also known as Mammud Nu and Ular — was convicted of murder committed during the commission of another crime and was given an additional sentence of a five-year jail term with hard labor. It said he was one of about 20 people who raided the Kotankauk border outpost, where two other officers were wounded.
A security official in Sittwe, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the convicted man was 23 years old and also known as Mohammad Ullah, and was the first suspect arrested for the border guard attacks.
Nyan Win Oo, a police officer in Rakhine's Maungdaw township, said the sentencing took place last Friday. He said the arrest took place more than three months ago, and that 13 other suspects were also arrested.
Myanmar has the death penalty for murder, terrorism and treason, but rarely carries out the punishment. In 2014, then-President Thein Sein commuted all death sentences to life imprisonment on humanitarian grounds.