YANGON: A court in Myanmar has sentenced three local United Nations staff to prison for participating in recent sectarian unrest, a government official said on Monday.
Two UN Refugee Agency workers were sentenced to six years and three years each Friday by a court in western Rakhine state on charges including arson and inciting violence, while a World Food Programme employee received a two-year term.
“They could be released under a presidential pardon,” the official said, adding that one is Buddhist and two are Muslim.
Five other UN workers detained over their alleged roles in the violence were freed in mid-August without charge, following an appeal from the United Nations for their release.
Fighting between Buddhists and Muslims in Rakhine state has left almost 90 people from both sides dead since June, according to an official estimate, although rights groups fear the real toll is much higher.
New York-based Human Rights Watch has accused Myanmar forces of opening fire on Rohingya Muslims during the violence, prompting concern across the Islamic world over the treatment of the stateless group.
Speaking a dialect similar to one in neighbouring Bangladesh, the Rohingya are seen by the Myanmar government and many Burmese as illegal immigrants.