BANGKOK -- A military tribunal in Myanmar has sentenced 19 people to death for killing a member of the military and wounding another, state television reported Friday night, in what is believed to be the junta's first use of the death penalty since declaring martial law last month.
The defendants are accused of attacking the two personnel and others with knives and clubs in Yangon's North Okkalapa township during the Armed Forces Day holiday on March 27. They reportedly took a motorcycle and a gun from the assailed personnel.
The sentence was handed down Thursday, according to state media. Of the 19 people tried, 17 remain at large and are on a wanted list.
In areas of Yangon that are under martial law, including North Okkalapa, serious crimes are brought before military tribunals. Appealing to a higher court is not an option, but the commander-in-chief -- Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing -- can commute or reverse a death sentence, and the regional commander can do so for lesser sentences.
Before the coup, Myanmar had imposed the death penalty but had carried out no executions for three decades.
March 27 was one of the bloodiest days of the ongoing crackdown on protesters. A total of 618 people had been killed by security forces as of Friday since the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.