Myanmar military court sentences 2 generals to 20 years in prison

The high-ranking junta officials were removed from their positions last month as part of a corruption crackdown.
By RFA Burmese
2023.10.11
Myanmar military court sentences 2 generals to 20 years in prison Lt. Gen. Moe Myint Tun [left] speaks at a meeting held by Myanmar Investment Commission in Myanmar, May 7, 2021. Gen. Yan Naung Soe [right] is seen in Myanmar in an undated photo.
Credit: Screenshot from MRTV [left], MDN

A military court in Myanmar on Wednesday sentenced two high-ranking generals – including a trusted confidant of junta chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing – to 20 years in prison for accepting bribes, illegally possessing foreign currencies and violating military regulations.

One of the generals, Lt. Gen. Moe Myint Tun, was arrested last month and removed from his positions as chairman of several trade and finance committees. He was the seventh-highest leader in the State Administration Council, the formal name of the military junta that took power in a February 2021 coup d’etat.

His removal was part of a crackdown on exporters and other businesspeople as the junta struggles to accumulate foreign revenue amid sanctions and soaring commodity prices, according to Radio Free Asia sources.

The generals were accused of making millions of dollars from their dealings with palm oil traders and by benefiting from the disparity between the official exchange rate of 2,100 kyats to the U.S. dollar and the market rate, Myanmar Now reported.

The other general, Brig. Gen. Yan Naung Soe, was also arrested last month. He was the joint secretary of the Central Committee on Ensuring the Smooth Flow of Trade and Goods, which is responsible for procuring U.S. dollars for trade licensing purposes and other commercial transactions.

The 20-year sentences are equal to life in prison for both men, the junta said in a statement. 

‘Prevents others from doing the same’

At a junta meeting in Naypyitaw on Sept. 28 – about a week after the two generals were arrested – Min Aung Hlaing reminded junta officials that the State Administration Council must be a model for all governing institutions in Myanmar.

“[Min Aung Hlaing] assigned trusted confidants to manage [the country’s economy] while facing a financial crisis due to international sanctions,” said Aung Myo, a military analyst and retired military officer. 

“He can’t forgive those who exploited such situations. That’s why he takes action against them,” he said. “It supports military unity. And it prevents others from doing the same.”  

Lt. Gen. Moe Myint Tun was also prosecuted for the way he treated other high-ranking military officials, according to Capt. Kaung Thu Win, who has joined the nationwide Civil Disobedience Movement of individuals who quit their government-related jobs to protest the junta.

“The main causes [for Moe Myint Tun’s conviction] were corruption,” he said. “But he was very close with Min Aung Hlaing, and he showed disrespect to his seniors who were not in powerful posts like him.”     

The military court’s decision was also likely aimed at showing the international community that the junta can run the country in an orderly manner, Myanmar-based political analyst Sai Kyi Zin Soe said. 

The strong evidence of corruption in both cases helps in that demonstration, he said.

Translated by Htin Aung Kyaw. Edited by Matt Reed.

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