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Ne Win Family Members Sentenced to Death - 2002-09-26

A Burma court has sentenced close family members of former dictator, Ne Win, to death on charges of plotting to overthrow the military government. The sentencing marks a slide in influence of the once powerful Ne Win clan.

A special tribunal convicted the four close relatives, including the son-in-law, of former Burma military dictator Ne Win for an attempted coup plot uncovered earlier this year.

Ne Win's son-in-law, Aye Zaw Win and his son, Kyaw Ne Win, as well as his two brothers, Aye Ne Win and Zwe Ne Win were sentenced to death.

Prosecutors accused them of recruiting army officers for a coup aimed at restoring 91-year-old Ne Win to power.

The defendants denied all charges. It is uncertain whether they would lodge an appeal to the Supreme Court.

During the three-and-one-half-month trial, the prosecution, aided by 46 witnesses, focused on largely circumstantial evidence. They charged the family was hungry for power, using sorcery and treachery to pursue their goals.

Some diplomats say they doubt a coup was plotted. They see the court decision as part of moves against the influence of the Ne Win family.

The decision also marks a break from Burma's past, enabling the military leadership to purge pro-Ne Win officers from the ranks.

Earlier, in a separate decision, Kyaw Ne Win and two accomplices were sentenced to up to eight prison terms of seven-years each for graft and corruption. They have 90 days to appeal the sentence.

A military tribunal has already sentenced more than 80 soldiers to 15-year prison terms for their role in the alleged coup plot.

Ne Win and his daughter Sandar Win Aye Zaw Win's wife are being held under house arrest, Sandar Win is well known business woman.

The government prosecutors alleged Ne Win's family members, facing a loss of business and other privileges had decided to make a bid for power.