International Desk: Myanmar has granted early release to seven soldiers jailed for the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys during a 2017 military crackdown in the western state of Rakhine, two prison officials, two former fellow inmates and one of the soldiers told Reuters.
The soldiers were freed in November last year, the two inmates said, meaning they served less than one year of their 10-year prison terms for the killings at Inn Din village.
They also served less jail time than two Reuters reporters who uncovered the killings. The journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, spent more than 16 months behind bars on charges of obtaining state secrets. The two were released in an amnesty on May 6.
Win Naing, the chief warden at Rakhine’s Sittwe Prison, and a senior prison official in the capital, Naypyitaw, confirmed that the convicted soldiers had not been in prison for some months.
“Their punishment was reduced by the military,” said the senior Naypyitaw official, who declined to be named.
Both prison officials declined to provide further details and said they did not know the exact date of the release, which was not announced publicly.
Military spokesmen Zaw Min Tun and Tun Tun Nyi declined to comment.
The seven soldiers were the only security personnel the military has said it has punished over the 2017 operation in Rakhine, which drove more than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh. U.N. investigators said the crackdown was executed with “genocidal intent” and included mass killings, gang rapes and widespread arson.
risingbd/May 27, 2019/Mukul