Yangon: A Myanmar court convicted five people for spreading fabricated allegations that a Muslim man raped a Buddhist woman, which led to deadly riots last July, a court official said on Friday.
One Buddhist and one Muslim man were killed during two days of rioting in the central city of Mandalay, which began when a mob of about 300 Buddhists swarmed a tea shop owned by a Muslim man accused of raping a female Buddhist employee.
Among those sentenced to 21 years in prison was Phyu Phyu Min, who filed a case with police in Pyinmana, a town near Mandalay, claiming she had been raped. She later confessed that she was paid to file the false complaint.
"Their false charge of offence sparked a riot in our peaceful society, leading to the death of two, causing distrust and conflicts between two communities," said a Mandalay Region court official who asked not to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media.
President Thein Sein`s government launched sweeping political and economic reforms after he took office in 2011 following 49 years of military rule. However, it has struggled to contain outbreaks of anti-Muslim violence in which at least 240 people have been killed since June 2012.
Most of the victims have been Muslims and riots are often preceded by claims that a Muslim man raped a Buddhist woman, as was the case in Mandalay.