A provincial court on Tuesday sentenced seven Muslims to prison for the death of a Buddhist monk in Myanmar during sectarian clashes that claimed 44 lives in March.

The Meiktila provincial court sentenced Myat Ko Ko to life for killing the monk and showing religious disrespect, defence lawyer Thein Than Oo said.

Three accomplices were sentenced to 14 years in jail, two got 10 years and a minor got seven, the lawyer said by phone.

On March 20, an altercation over the price of a hairpin in a Muslim-owned gold shop spiralled into a riot that left dozens dead and at least 8,000 homeless, most of them Muslims.

Authorities arrested 87 people for participating in the violence. Three Buddhists were sentenced to prison last month.

Myanmar’s Muslim community, accounting for about 5 per cent of the 60 million population accepted Tuesday’s verdict.

“We see this as a fair punishment but we want to know why some Buddhist monks involved in the violence have not been sentenced,” a senior member of Myanmar’s Islamic Religious Council said on condition of anonymity.

“In some TV footage, you can see what the monks did and this is the evidence what had happened in Meiktila,” he said.

Myanmar has seen several sectarian clashes between Buddhists and Muslim communities since the country emerged from five decades of military dictatorships in November 2010, when an election brought the nominally civilian government of President Thein Sein to power.