07/25/2005, 00.00
MYANMAR
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Ex PM Khin Nyunt sentenced to a 44 years suspended prison term

Khin's two sons are sentenced to 68 and 51 years.

Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Former Myanmar Prime Minister Khin Nyunt was found guilty on eight charges, including corruption, and sentenced to a 44 years suspended prison term, official sources said.

The sentence was pronounced on July 22 after a trial that apparently lasted only two weeks, just a few days before foreign ministers from the Association of South-East Asian Nations met in Laos to discuss Myanmar's turn to chair the association in 2006.

A source close to the family said that Khin Nyunt would remain under house arrest as he has been seen he was purged from the government last October after clashing with army Chief General Than Shwe.

"Khin Nyunt's trial is a warning that anyone who opposes Than Shwe will be punished; it is also a clear signal that no opposition will be tolerated, even outside the military," political analyst Win Min said.
On Friday, a court in Insein also handed down prison sentences of 68 years and 51 years respectively to two of Khin Nyunt's sons, Zaw Naing Oo and Ye Naing Win.

They were found guilty of export-import violations, diverting public property, bribery and corruption, and have been placed under house arrest.

The status of Khin Nyunt's wife, who is also facing trial, was not immediately known.

The junta arrested hundreds of people during the October purge described as a crackdown on corruption that toppled Khin Nyunt and dismantled his powerful military intelligence network.

About 300 people linked to the former Prime Minister have stood trial, with more than 40 convicted, mainly for economic crimes. Some received sentences of more than 100 years.

Khin Nyunt, who announced military-ruled Myanmar's "roadmap to democracy" in 2003, was seen as a pragmatist favouring limited dialogue with detained opposition leader and Nobel peace recipient Aung San Suu Kyi. He was replaced by junta hardliner General Soe Win.

A western diplomat in Yangôn described Khin Nyunt's suspended sentence as "surprising".

"Everyone had expected him to be harshly sentenced and the trial swiftly wrapped up," the diplomat said.

"Perhaps some high-ranking military officials who rose with him together in the ranks were willing to spare him a little," he added.

It seems however they ignored Khin Nyunt's plea for clemency for his sons.

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