Actor Ye Dike has been slapped with a six-year jail term for possession that authorities say should serve as a deterrent to others in the industry engaged in drug use.

Ye Dike was arrested in Bago Region’s Kyauktaga township in July 2013 with 16 grams of hashish, police said.

A police sergeant from Kyauktaga said the township court handed down the sentence on April 7. He said police had initially tried to also charge the actor with drug use but a medical checkup revealed no traces of illicit substances in his body.

“The decision of the judge is fair. The section for drug possession carries a potential jail term of five to 10 years, so you can say he got off lightly with only six,” the sergeant said.

“I heard some other celebrities are using drugs. I hope they consider what has happened to Ye Dike and avoid using drugs completely.”

The trial took longer than expected because most defence witnesses failed to appear as scheduled, he said.

“During the hearings on November 12, November 26 and December 2 the defence witnesses were absent.”

Director Nyi Nyi Zaw, who had worked frequently with Ye Dike on movies produced by Satori Films, said the decision was unfair and the defence was planning to appeal.

He said the judge had not taken the defence witnesses seriously.

“The judge thought that because he is an actor people love him and they were willing to lie at the trial. The judge thought the witnesses were fake and didn’t listen to what they said,” Nyi Nyi Zaw said.

Even if the actor does have to serve the six-year term, Nyi Nyi Zaw said Satori would welcome him back into their films.

“Ye Dike is a good person and has done a lot for the public. He does not deserve this punishment.”

Some of the actor’s fans said last week they thought he had received a lengthier term because police wanted to use him as an example.

“I’m very sad for Ye Dike,” said Ma Phue Phue, 23. “I think he was sacrificed for all of the drug-using celebrities as a way for the authorities to say they will take action against anyone, no matter how famous they are.

“I’m just sorry I won’t be able to watch him perform for at least another six years.”