Myanmar military court sentences general ousted from ruling council to 5 years for corruption

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BANGKOK (AP) — A military court in Myanmar has sentenced a general who until recently was a senior member of the country’s ruling council to five years in prison for abusing his authority and taking bribes, state-run media reported Saturday.

Lt. Gen. Soe Htut, who was home affairs minister as well as a member of the ruling State Administration Council, is the latest senior officer to be jailed for corruption since the army seized power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi more than 2 1/2 years ago.

A report in Saturday’s state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper said Soe Htut abused his rank and authority by directing subordinates to issue passports to companies at their request, accepted bribes and failed to ensure that financial rules and regulations were followed for the staff welfare fund of the home affairs ministry.

The newspaper described him as a former general, which means he has already been dismissed from the army.

Soe Htut had been reportedly under investigation intermittently in the capital, Naypyitaw, since September — about the same time that other generals and senior officials in the military government were detained in alleged corruption cases.

Last month, a military tribunal sentenced two other senior generals to life imprisonment after they were found guilty of high treason, accepting bribes, illegal possession of foreign currency and violating military discipline.

Myanmar’s military leadership is known for being close-knit and secretive, and the arrests of senior generals are a rare public indication that there may be splits within its ranks.

Soe Htut had served in the important post of home affairs minister from 2020 until August this year. He then assumed the less influential position of union government office minister until he lost that job and nominally resumed his military duties in late September. He was also removed from the State Administration Council in a reshuffle in September.

He had been a target of critics of the military government because he managed the home affairs ministry, which was closely involved in the brutal repression of the pro-democracy movement that arose to oppose the 2021 army takeover.

In July last year he reportedly supervised the execution of four political prisoners, including a democracy activist and a former lawmaker from Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, according to Myanmar Now, an independent online news site.

Suu Kyi, whose elected government was ousted by the army in 2021, has been jailed on several corruption charges that are widely seen as being fabricated for political reasons.

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