Ousted Myanmar PM may be kept under house arrest

  • World
  • Saturday, 23 Jul 2005

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan may start deploying a missile shield by the end of next March, a year earlier than planned, to counter the threat of North Korean and Chinese ballistic missiles, a Japanese daily said on Saturday.

YANGON (Reuters) - Ousted Myanmar Prime Minister Khin Nyunt, given a 44-year "suspended" sentence this week for corruption and bribery, may be kept under house arrest, legal sources said on Saturday. 

Khin Nyunt, who was also head of the former Burma's feared military intelligence operations, was purged last October, charged with eights counts of corruption and tried in a special high security court in Yangon's Insein Central Prison. 

"It is true that he was sentenced to 44 years imprisonment on Friday," a Supreme Court source told Reuters, without offering any explanation as to why he had received a "suspended" sentence. 

"That's what the higher administrative authorities made it," the source said. 

Khin Nyunt's two sons, a businessman and an army lieutenant colonel who were also charged with a string of economic crimes, had also received lengthy prison sentences, the source said. 

A source at Insein Central Prison said the pair Lieutenant Colonel Zaw Naing Oo and Ye Naing Win received 68 and 51 years in prison, although it is not clear who got which. 

One legal expert in Yangon said "suspended" sentence may suggest Khin Nyunt and his wife, who was moved to Insein prison with her husband despite facing no charges, will be kept under house arrest. 

"In cases like this, the trial is normally conducted by judges in accordance with legal practices, but the verdicts are usually dictated by the powers that be," the expert said. "Most often, it is hard to explain their final decisions logically." 

Ironically, house arrest would place Khin Nyunt, the junta's former number two, in the same position as opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been in detention for much of the last 15 years. 

Another analyst said the suspended sentence maybe meant the military government's Senior General Than Shwe no longer regarded Khin Nyunt as either an economic or political threat. 

"The top men seemed to have got over their anger with Khin Nyunt. And they may also think that he no longer poses a big threat to them," the analyst said. 

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