The High Court of Arakan State on Friday rejected an appeal by lawyers of seven men accused of murdering 10 Muslim pilgrims in 2012. The trial will now go ahead as scheduled at Sandoway [Thandwe] District Court.
Charged in May with the murder – which involved a Buddhist mob grabbing a group of Muslims from a bus in Taunggup and beating them to death – the seven suspects had appealed against the charges to the regional high court.
The appeal was dismissed on 12 August, according to Aye Nu Sein, a lawyer for the accused.
“The High Court confirmed the original charges and dismissed our appeal,” she said. “If we do not now appeal to a higher court, the trial will go ahead as scheduled at district level.”
She confirmed that the only higher authority in the land was the Supreme Court in Naypyidaw, but elaborated no further on whether such an appeal would be launched.
Aye Nu Sein said it appears strange that her clients were not residents of Taunggup Township in southern Arakan State, but were from other places.
“The accused are not Taunggup locals,” she said. “They are all from northern Arakanese towns such as Rathedaung and Mrauk-U. Only one is local. The six who I represent are not. I think this is strange.”
The 2012 lynching of the 10 pilgrims in Taunggup was a catalytic incident in the wave of mob violence between Buddhists and Muslims that has plagued the western region ever since.