Soldiers jailed for Rohingya killings

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"I'm not happy at all", Kyaw Soe Oo said.

At that same prior hearing, lead prosecutor Kyaw Min Aung countered that the defendants had been found in possession of secret government documents, that by obtaining them the journalists posed a threat to state security and the national interest, and that as such the defence's motion for a dismissal should be rejected.

The defense lawyers asked the judge last week to dismiss the charges after four months of preliminary hearings, saying testimony from prosecution witnesses did not give enough evidence to prove the pair violated the law.

"We believe that there are solid grounds for the court to dismiss this matter and to release our journalists". Defence and prosecution lawyers made legal arguments in front of the judge a week ago, after the defence filed a motion to have the case thrown out two weeks ago. Myanmar government spokesman, Zaw Htay, could not be immediately reached for comment.

The US embassy in Yangon said that while the verdict handed down in the Inn Din massacre case was an encouraging sign, "it merely underscores that Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who sought to expose that crime, should be free". The courtroom was packed, with diplomats from France, the European Union, the United States and Japan among those attending.

Family members of the reporters were in tears after the ruling, but Wa Lone, who turned 32 on Wednesday and was brought cake by his friends, still expressed optimism.

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Burmese soldiers have been given long prison sentences for a massacre of Rohingya Muslims in the first such action against perpetrators of the murderous ethnic cleansing which has driven 700,000 people into Bangladesh since last August.

Pan Ei Mon, Wa Lone's wife, insisted her husband was innocent and tearfully begged authorities to release the reporters when speaking to media outside the court. "I want them to be released soon".

The military said in a statement the soldiers will serve 10 years with hard labour for "contributing and participating in murder". "In front of my husband, I always pretend I'm OK, and I am exhausted of it". When convicted they can end up to 14 years.

The two journalists were arrested after they were invited to meet police officers for dinner in the north of Yangon.

The Rohingya men from the northern Rakhine village of Inn Din were buried in a mass grave in early September after being hacked to death or shot by Buddhist neighbours and soldiers. The next hearing will take place on April 20.