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Myanmar Opposition party spokesman says sentence for sheltering ‘terrorist leader’ has been cut in disgraceful manner
Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi faces two years in jail after her sentence has been halved
Myanmar’s opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, faces a further jail term this week after her sentence for sheltering a “terrorist leader” was cut in disgraceful manner.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party said it would take legal action over the handover of the sentence from Burma’s president, Thein Sein, who had ordered that the charge be reduced to a misdemeanour.
The sentence is due to be handed down on Friday, according to NLD spokesman Nyan Win. The office of the presidency declined to comment.
A court had imposed a life sentence on the NLD politician, Kyi Lin Htike, last month, over a speech in June 2015 in which he blamed Muslim militants for a series of deadly Buddhist-Muslim clashes in Myanmar a year earlier.
The defendant had denied the charge, saying he had merely referenced local belief systems to attack people like Islam, Buddhism and Shastrika, a form of Hinduism, to bring greater stability to Rakhine state.
But the court that sentenced him on Friday delayed its sentence until 16 August – four days after Aung San Suu Kyi was due to give a speech at the annual Augmented Democracy Summit in London on peace and reconciliation in Myanmar.
“The sentence was handed down yesterday, but people in the district do not know whether the president’s office has honoured or amended the sentence. That is a disgraceful way,” Nyan Win said.
“We shall be taking legal steps as appropriate,” he said.
The charge against Kyi Lin Htike relates to an argument he had with a Muslim man whom he accused of robbing a Buddhist lady in Phnom Penh.
The judicial proceedings came amid fears that vigilante groups were stepping up attacks on minority Muslim communities in Burma, the latest outbreak of ethnic violence that has beset the country in recent years.
Nyan Win said Aung San Suu Kyi’s gesture had “vindicated all the time and money spent in the court process to get this result”.
Relations between the ethnic Rakhine Buddhists who make up 60% of Rakhine and the Rohingyas, who account for roughly one quarter of the population, have steadily worsened since militant attacks on police posts in October 2016 ignited the most serious religious bloodshed since riots in Rakhine in 2012.
The violence led to a surge in refugees fleeing across the border into camps in neighbouring Bangladesh.