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Man tied to 2013 Myanmar hotel blast gets life in prison

Saw Myint Lwin, in white shirt, escorted by Myanmar police officers, leaves a court after receiving sentence Friday, July 3, 2015, in Yangon, Myanmar. The court ordered Saw Myint Lwin linked to the 2013 bombing at Trader's Hotel, one of the country's most prestigious hotels, to serve life imprisonment plus five years of hard labor. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — A court in Myanmar on Friday sentenced a man linked to a 2013 bombing that wounded an American tourist in one of the country’s most prestigious hotels to life imprisonment and hard labor.

The October 2013 blast at the Trader’s Hotel, now known as the Sule Shangri-La, in the heart of the country’s commercial capital Yangon, ripped apart a guest’s room and wounded a 43-year-old American woman.

The court convicted 26-year-old Saw Myint Lwin on three charges related to the bombing. He was one of three men who were arrested. The others were acquitted and the alleged mastermind, who police said is a member of the Karen National Union ethnic rebel group, is still at large.

Police said investigations found that Saw Myint Lwin was paid to carry out the bombing by a businessman tied to the rebels who was unhappy with reforms that have attracted some of the world’s most prominent companies, as the country moves from decades of military rule to an open economy.

Police said Saw Myint Lwin checked into a ninth floor room at the hotel, attached a small bomb to the back of the toilet and set the timer to go off within 48 hours. When it detonated, a family of four had moved into the room. The American woman’s two young children and husband were not injured.

Small bombings occurred frequently in Myanmar during 50 years of military rule. The government typically blamed the blasts on dissidents and ethnic insurgents. Such attacks have been less common since the nominally civilian government of President Thein Sein took office in 2011 and started implementing political and economic reforms.

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