Myanmar jails ex-minister over pagoda

2014-10-17 13:40

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Yangon - Myanmar's former religion minister was jailed for 13 years on Friday, after he was convicted of using state funds to build a pagoda in his family name, and of sedition.

Local reports said the sedition charge was connected to his opposition to a police raid on a disputed monastery in June.

Hsan Sint was removed from his post on June 19 amid allegations that he took 10 million kyat ($10 000) to pay for a Buddhist pagoda to be erected in his family's name.

Local media suggested his sacking was actually for opposing a 10 June raid on Yangon's Mahasantisukha Monastery, which saw five monks arrested.

The monastery and its land are disputed between the government's own Buddhist Monks Association, the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee, and monks led by the popular abbot Pyinya Wuntha.

Presidential spokesman Ye Htut said Hsan Sint was removed because he had "failed in his duties."

The pagoda was reportedly built outside the new capital Naypyidaw in October with money Hsan Sint took from the state coffers and only repaid in part.

Pagodas are common across Myanmar, where they often take the shape of a solid, windowless dome, sometimes guilded. Having one built is thought to confer Buddhist merit on the donor, easing the cycle of reincarnation.

Hsan Sint was convicted of breach of trust under Article 409 of the Penal Code, and of violating Article 124(A) of the Sedition Act.

Read more on:    myanmar

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