A Burmese serviceman accused of the attempted rape of a 73-year-old woman in Kachin State has been sentenced to seven years in prison by a military court.
The Ministry of Information published a report on 11 July stating that the private-ranking soldier was handed the maximum sentence for “misconduct which could lead to suspicion and mistrust between the Tatmadaw [Burmese military] and the people”. In hearing the case, the court found only that he had “visited the woman, who has been familiar with him” on the evening of 13 April. Forensic evidence showed no signs of rape.
The Defence Services has since threatened punishment against those “who undermine trust between the military and the public.” The soldier in question will also face a civilian trial for the same case.
According to the ministry’s report, the government armed forces’ Northern Regional Military Command last month sentenced the soldier to seven years in a civilian prison, following a public rally by the Kachin Baptist Church in May demanding justice for the victim.
Rev. Tuja of the Kachin Baptist Church said he believes it is not likely that the military, as an institution with strict regulations, would punish a soldier for a crime he was not guilty of.
“We previously met with a forensic doctor, and he said the sperm sample was found on the soldier but not on the elderly lady. At the military trial, it was said that there was no sperm found at all,” he said.
The reverend also expressed hope that the civilian trial will pass a more conclusive judgement on the case.