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A court in Myanmar sentenced four members of a family to as much as 16 years in prison with hard labor on Friday after finding them guilty of enslaving and abusing their two teenage maids, in a case that has prompted widespread public outrage over the girls' treatment.

The two girls were 11 and 12 when they were sent to the city from their poor village in Myanmar's delta to work as maids for a family that owned a tailor shop. Five years later, a local journalist heard allegations of child abuse at the shop and investigated, pretending he wanted a suit. He wrote an article about the girls' broken fingers and scars from cuts, burns and beatings.

Police then investigated and arrested six family members who were accused of locking up and torturing the girls for five years, stabbing them with scissors and knives, and burning them with an iron. They were charged with assault and violations of anti-trafficking and child protection laws.

After a trial lasting more than a year, a district court in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, on Friday sentenced the mother, Tin Thuzar, to 16 years and one month and two adult children to 13 years and one month, defense lawyer Hnin Su Aung said. The husband of one of the children also received a sentence of 13 years and one month.




Russia's former economics minister was handed an eight-year prison sentence Friday after being convicted of accepting a $2 million bribe from one of President Vladimir Putin's top associates. The high-profile trial of Alexei Ulyukayev has been widely seen as part of infighting between Kremlin clans. Ulyukayev was a key member of a group of liberal-minded technocrats in the Cabinet, while his accuser, Igor Sechin is the most prominent representative of the hard-line flank of the Russian elite.

Sechin heads Russia's largest oil producer, Rosneft, and his clout seconds only that of Putin. The 61-year-old Ulyukayev is the highest-ranking Russian official to be arrested in more than two decades. The case was viewed by many as Sechin's personal vendetta against Ulyukayev, who had been critical of a Rosneft privatization plan proposed by Sechin.

Ulyukayev was detained a year ago at Rosneft's headquarters following a sting operation by the Federal Security Service (FSB), the main KGB successor agency.

Sechin claimed in written testimony that Ulyukayev was extorting a bribe from him in exchange for issuing a positive assessment of Rosneft's bid to take over another oil company, Bashneft.

Ulyukayev denied the charges, calling them a provocation set up by Sechin. The minister argued that a person would have to be insane to try to extort a bride from the powerful Sechin.

Sechin has flaunted repeated court orders to testify as a witness at Ulyukayev's trial, citing urgent business. Asked Thursday about Sechin's failure to show up, Putin said at his marathon news conference that he saw no violation of legal procedures by his lieutenant.

A Moscow court on Friday also ordered Ulyukayev to pay a $2.2 million fine.

S Carolina Rep. Quinn pleads guilty to corruption charge

•  Ethics     updated  2017/12/18 15:06


South Carolina Rep. Rick Quinn Jr. pleaded guilty to corruption charges Wednesday, becoming the third Republican lawmaker convicted in a wide-ranging Statehouse corruption probe.

Prosecutors said they will ask for prison time for the 52-year-old former House Majority leader. Quinn faces up to a year behind bars on a charge of misconduct in office. The other two lawmakers who have pleaded guilty in the investigation have received probation.

Quinn planned to plead guilty to one count of misdemeanor misconduct in office, prosecutor David Pascoe said as Wednesday's hearing started. Pascoe agreed to drop a second charge.

Quinn broke the law by taking $4 million in unreported money from lobbyists, Pascoe said. "It wasn't about service to the people, it was about service to his pocketbook," Pascoe said.

As part of the deal, Pascoe also agreed to drop corruption charges against Quinn's Republican consultant father Richard Quinn Sr., but he must testify before a grand jury that continues to investigate legislators and others and fully cooperate with the State Law Enforcement Division. Quinn has dozens of high-powered clients in the state, including U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and Attorney General Alan Wilson.

The consulting business, First Impressions, is also pleading guilty to not registering as a lobbyist and will pay a fine. Quinn resigned an hour before the hearing. He called his 21 years in the South Carolina House "one of the greatest honors of my life" in a letter to House Speaker Jay Lucas.

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