A court in Yangon’s Insein prison has sentenced six men to life in prison for attacks on telecommunications towers owned by a company tied to Myanmar’s military.
They were convicted on Jan. 16 under Section 50 (i) of the Counter-Terrorism Act which covers terrorist bombing, according to a friend of the men.
The six were arrested with two other men in November 2022 and accused of blowing up Mytel towers in several townships, a police station, and the power splitter and power lines of a karaoke club.
The friend, who didn’t want to be identified for safety reasons, told RFA he only heard the verdict on Thursday because the men were not allowed to hire a lawyer for the secret trial in Yangon’s notorious prison.
“These eight people were arrested and I found out the court verdict was handed down three days ago,” he said “They were only arrested last November. The court verdict was so fast.”
The six men with life sentences are T Nyein Khant; Aung Myo Win; Htet Arkar; Thea Oo Paing’; Kyaw Thiha; and San Lin Htut.
The other two, Kaung Htut and Ye Htet Zaw, were sentenced to seven years in prison the same day for allegedly attending military training with anti-junta troops in the jungle, according to the men’s friends.
Mytel is 49% owned by Vietnam’s defense ministry through Viettel Global Investment. The Myanmar military oversees a 28% stake held by state-owned Star High Co. Ltd. The remaining 23% is owned by Myanmar National Telecom Holding.
In March last year Justice for Myanmar obtained leaked documents which the group said showed Myanmar’s military stood to earn U.S.$720 million for Mytel between 2021 and 2025.
Three months later the activist group produced more leaked documents, which it said proved Mytel had been working with the junta to monitor military personnel by offering them customized phone numbers.
According to Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) figures released Thursday, more than 13,600 people are being held in prisons across Myanmar.
Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn.