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Burma Court Upholds Death Sentences for Convicted Coup Plotters - 2002-12-24

Burma's Supreme Court has upheld death sentences against four relatives of the late dictator, Ne Win, for plotting a coup against the military government. An attorney for the four says he will file a special appeal. Ne Win's son-in-law and three grandsons were sentenced in September to die by hanging for plotting to overthrow the government.

Court officials said the four had plotted to overthrow the government using black magic. Authorities said Ne Win's relatives had hatched the coup in an effort to restore their power and influence in the country.

All four accused pleaded not guilty in court and appealed their sentence.

But Burma's Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected the appeal for Aye Zaw Win, Aye Ne Win, Kyaw Ne Win and Zwe Ne.

Ne Win died while under house arrest at the age of 91 earlier this month. His daughter, Sandar, remains confined.

The family's lawyer said he will submit a special appeal to the Supreme Court. It is widely believed the four will have their death sentences commuted to life in prison, as Burma rarely executes prisoners. Ne Win took power from a civilian government in 1962 and his 26 year rule led the country into isolation and economic disaster. The late dictator stepped down in 1988 amid pro-democracy demonstrations, but was believed to still hold sway behind the current ruling military junta. Burma has been under military rule for most of the last four decades and has been placed under economic sanctions by many countries in the international community.