Tatmadaw soldiers jailed for killing Mong Yaw villagers

YANGON — Seven soldiers have been sentenced to jail for killing villagers during an interrogation, the military said, a rare ruling in a country where the army has long operated with impunity.

The Tatmadaw controlled Myanmar for half a century in a brutal reign rife with rights abuses, including allegations of torture, rape and recruiting child soldiers.

Although it has rolled back its powers since handing over power to a quasi-civilian government in 2011, the army seldom admits to misconduct among its troops.

The sentencing handed out by a military court on Thursday suggests the still-powerful army is looking to further revamp its image as the country opens up to the West and hurtles through a democratic transition.

“Seven Myanmar army soldiers are sentenced to five years for killing local people in Mong Yaw village in Lashio township, Shan State,” the military said in statement on Facebook.

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“They all have to be sentenced to five years with hard labour in country side prison,” it added.

The bodies of the villagers were found in shallow graves several days after they were taken into custody by soldiers following a skirmish with ethnic rebels in Shan State — one of many regions riven by decades-long insurgencies.

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