Two women and eight men were handed death sentences by a Rangoon court last week after being found guilty of the murder of three people during a bungled armed robbery last year.
One of the 12-strong group allegedly involved in the Kungyangon township robbery remains on the run, while the leader of the group, Aye Than, was beaten to death by mob following the incident on 16 May last year.
The group made off with 1.3 million kyat ($US1,475) in cash and four grams of gold from a house in Kungyangon township’s Dayeilu village.
They were sentenced under Article 396 of Burma’s penal code which states that “If any one of five or more person, who are conjointly committing dacoity [gang robbery], commits murder…every one of those persons shall be punished with death, or transportation for life, or rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine”.
Although death sentences are still awarded by courts in Burma, no one has been formally executed for a number of years. Two whistleblowers sentenced to death in January last year for leaking details of secretive senior-level governmental visits to North Korea and Russia remain in prison.
A witness to the armed robbery told DVB in May last year that the group had “opened fire indiscriminately and two villagers died straight away”.
“[The others] all ran away through the backdoor. The men left a bomb…it exploded and one person lost his tongue and ear; another person lost his jaw and tongue.” One of the 13 injured died in hospital the following day.
When asked at the time whether the robbers had worn army uniform, an officer at Kungyangon police station said: “We don’t about that yet. We are still investigating.” No further mention of this has been made in media reports of the trial.