Myanmar junta justifies death sentences

Myanmar's military junta reiterated on Thursday that it intends to carry out the death sentences it handed to four people earlier this month.

One of the four is a pro-democracy activist and former lawmaker with the party led by Aung San Suu Kyi. The sentences were strongly condemned by the United Nations, the United States and other Western countries.

No dates for the executions have been announced yet, but a spokesperson for the military's governing council justified its decision amid the international criticism.

The spokesperson claimed the pro-democracy groups' incitement "caused 50 innocent people to be killed."

He told a regular news conference that Myanmar is independent and has power over its own jurisdiction.

The country has been in turmoil since the military seized control in a coup last year. A local human rights group says more than 1,900 people have died as the junta cracked down on protests after the coup.

An armed pro-democracy group resisting the military has vowed to retaliate if the executions are carried out, raising fears the unrest could escalate.