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Myanmar tries six over monk’s death

Six Muslims on trial in Myanmar could face the death penalty for the murder of a Buddhist monk during recent religious violence, an official said on Tuesday.

A verdict in their trial is expected on Friday, according to Ye Aung Myint, Chief Justice of Mandalay Region.

‘If they’re found guilty of murder, they will be sentenced to death,’ he told AFP by telephone.

At least 43 people were killed and thousands left homeless in March after a wave of violence apparently triggered by a quarrel in a gold shop in the central town of Meiktila.

Soon after that argument a monk was killed, sparking unrest that spread across the region and mostly targeted Muslims.

Last month the gold shop owner and two other Muslims were jailed for 14 years for assaulting a Buddhist customer.

No Buddhists are known to have been sentenced in relation to the unrest. Attacks against Muslims -- who make up an estimated four percent of Myanmar’s population -- have exposed deep fractures in the formerly junta-run country and cast a shadow over widely praised political reforms.

Some monks were involved in the clashes, while others are behind a nationalistic campaign calling for a boycott of Muslim-owned shops. Ye Aung Myint said the six on trial are a 20-year-old man, the main suspect in the killing.
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