YANGON — Seven soldiers have been sentenced to jail with hard labour for their part in the extrajudicial killings of 10 Rohingya Muslim men last year, according to a Facebook post by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing late on Tuesday.
The bloody incident in Inn Din village on September 2 is the only atrocity to which the military has admitted during its crackdown in northern Rakhine state.
Reuters journalists Ko Wa Lone and Ko Kyaw Soe Oo, were investigating the massacre when they were arrested in December on the outskirts of Yangon for possessing classified documents that could land them up to 14 years in jail if convicted.
A judge said last Wednesday that he would decide this week whether to throw out the case against the two journalists.
A month after their detention, the military issued a statement in a rare admission of wrongdoing that some of its security forces had been involved in the killing and pledging to take action against those responsible.
However, the army has repeatedly claimed the Rohingya men were “terrorists”, but has not presented any evidence to back up the allegation.
“Four officers have been purged [from the army] and given a 10 year prison sentence with hard labour. A further three soldiers were purged and given a 10 year prison sentence with hard labour in a criminal prison,” read the post from Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.
The tribunal took place behind closed doors, ignoring international calls for an independent inquiry.
The arrest of the Reuters journalists has provoked global outrage with calls for the pair’s release echoing around the world as they wait to hear whether the court will throw out their case on Wednesday.
Their report, based on testimony from Buddhist villagers, security officers and relatives of the slain men, described how Myanmar troops and Buddhist villagers executed the 10 men before dumping their bodies into a mass grave.
It included photographs of the victims, hands bound and kneeling on the floor prior to the killing – and of their bodies in a pit afterwards.
Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi has welcomed the army admission as a “positive step”.