Myanmar soldiers 'get 10 years over Rohingya killings'

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The massacre was being investigated by two Reuters journalists - Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28 - who were subsequently arrested in December and are still behind bars facing charges of violating the country's Official Secrets Act.

"The court decided that the proposal from the defendants' lawyer to release the defendants.has been rejected", judge Ye Lwin told a courtroom in the commercial capital Yangon packed with supporters, family and media.

The murders were part of a larger military crackdown on the Rohingya, that began in response to insurgent attacks on security forces in August and has since prompted nearly 700,000 Muslims to flee to Bangladesh amid allegations of mass murder, rape and arson.

The Reuters pair had been investigating a massacre of 10 Rohingya men on September 2 in the Rakhine village of Inn Din that was carried out by security forces and local villagers.

Myanmar has rejected accusations of ethnic cleansing in its western state of Rakhine, saying its security forces launched a legitimate counter-insurgency operation on August 25 in response to Rohingya militant attacks.

The Myanmar government has acknowledged the murders, but it has repeatedly denied worldwide accusations of ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Rohingya.

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

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However, the army has repeatedly claimed the Rohingya men were "terrorists", but has not presented any evidence to back up the allegation.

The case has drawn worldwide attention, with high-profile rights lawyer Amal Clooney joining the legal team representing the jailed journalists.

Wa Lone's wife Pan Ei Mon, who is pregnant with their first child, broke down in tears after the hearing, telling journalists, "Wa Lone told me "not to expect too much" but I'm always expecting as his wife. A further three soldiers were purged and given a 10 year prison sentence with hard labour in a criminal prison", read the post from Senior General Min Aung Hlaing. "We were simply trying to find out the news and report this and we are facing a trial that could result in us going to prison for 14 years", he said. Reuters announced last month that that prominent human rights lawyer Amal Clooney had joined the legal team.

Another witness said he had signed the search form recording the reporters' arrests before the items seized from them had been filled in.

Reuters President and Editor-in-Chief Stephen J. Adler said he was disappointed with the court's decision.

"There has been an alarming erosion in press freedom in Myanmar where media workers continue to face threats, intimidation and even jail time simply for doing their jobs".