Seven students sentenced to death for murder of retired officer

At least 132 people are currently facing death for their alleged involvement in attacks on regime targets 

A military tribunal sentenced seven students to death on Wednesday after finding them guilty of murdering a retired army officer earlier this year, according to a source close to the defendants.

The condemned prisoners, who were all students of Dagon University, were convicted of conspiracy to murder and sentenced under Sections 34 and 302a of the Penal Code, the source said.

They were accused of shooting Saw Moe Win, a retired lieutenant colonel, in front of the South Dagon branch of the Global Treasure Bank, which he managed, in April.

Two urban guerrilla groups—the Anti-Fascist Armed Force and the Yangon Liberation Force—claimed responsibility for the killing on April 19, a day after it was carried out.

The accused—Thura Maung Maung, Thiha Htet Zaw, Hein Htet, Khant Zin Win, Zaw Lin Naing, Thet Paing Oo, and Khant Lin Maung Maung—were arrested several days later.

Thura Maung Maung, Thiha Htet Zaw and Hein Htet are also facing charges under Section 51c of the Counter-Terrorism Law for alleged possession of weapons and explosives, according to Myanmar Now’s source.

In a statement released on Thursday, the Alliance of Students’ Unions—Yangon condemned the death sentences, saying that the junta was using its “corrupt judiciary system to murder people.”

“We object to and condemn the death sentences [handed down by] courts that are acting as pillars of the terrorist military regime,” the group said, adding that it was closely monitoring the situation.

There were also reports that four other prisoners had been sentenced to death by a special court inside Yangon’s Insein Prison on Thursday.

The prisoners, identified as Wai Zin Yan, Min Htet Thar, Thu Htoo Aung, and Phyo, were arrested in Yangon on June 10 and charged with murder under Section 302a of the Penal Code, according to information released the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

No further details were available at the time of reporting.

On March 17, another Dagon University student named Saung Lay Pyay was also sentenced to death for her alleged involvement in the murder of a high-school teacher in Yangon’s North Okkalapa Township.

Another suspect in that case named Naing Aung was handed a life sentence under Sections 50a and 50i of the Counter-Terrorism Law.

Most death penalties imposed since last year’s coup have been handed down by military tribunals operating in townships under martial law.

According to the AAPP, a total of 132 people have been sentenced to death for attacks targeting the regime that seized power in February 2021.

In July, the junta sparked outrage when it executed four political prisoners, including veteran activist Ko Jimmy and elected MP Phyo Zayar Thaw.

It was the first time in decades that the death penalty had been carried out in Myanmar.