MYANMAR - Myanmar has freed 153 Chinese facing life sentences for illegal logging. Their release was part of a larger presidential amnesty deal which freed close to 7,000 prisoners.
Last week's sentencing strained the country's relation with neighboring China. News reports say a life sentence like that given to the 153 loggers, is typically equal to 20 years. An additional two Chinese loggers, both said to be minors, were given 10 years.
The Chinese loggers were arrested in January during a military operation in Myanmar’s Kachin state which is near the Chinese border. According to news reports, more than 1,600 logs were seized during the raid. Rich in teak and rosewood forests, Myanmar banned timber exports from its country last year.
A 2014 report by Environmental Investigation Agency highlighted the widespread corruption in the country's logging. "Data Corruption: Exposing the True Scale of Logging in Myanmar," claimed 72 percent of log shipments from 2000-2013 were unauthorized and unrecorded — a value of $5.7 billion.
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