Lawyers appeal murder charges in case of Muslim pilgrims lynching

Lawyers appeal murder charges in case of Muslim pilgrims lynching

Seven Buddhists charged for their participation in the murder of 10 Muslim pilgrims in Arakan State town of Taunggup in June 2012 are appealing against their indictment.

The district court in Sandoway, officially known as Thandwe, indicted the seven for murder in May this year under Penal Code articles 302 and 34.

Defence lawyers Aye Nu Sein, representing six of the group, and Kyaw Nyunt Maung; who represents the other, submitted an appeal against the charges on Thursday.

“I presented an argument at the high court today stating that the charges against my clients are not in conformity with legal procedures, and so should be dropped,” said Aye Nu Sein.

The Arakanese Regional High Court is due to pass a decision on the appeal within seven to ten days.

In an incident that was one of the main precursors of the communal violence erupting in Arakan State, in early June 2012 hundreds of people in Taunggup dragged ten individuals off a bus filled with Muslim pilgrims and beat them to death. The bus was then set ablaze as members of the mob urinated on the victims.

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The attack was sparked by an incident the month before when three men, two of whom were assumed to be Muslim, were accused of raping and murdering a local Buddhist woman. Two of the suspects were sentenced to death while the third committed suicide in prison.

Arakanese police originally arrested 30 persons in connection with the lynching of the 10 Muslim pilgrims. However, eye-witnesses reported that local police in Taunggup stood by and watched as the lynch mob murdered the pilgrims.

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