The wife of a man allegedly killed by a Myanmar Army officer seven months ago came face to face with the suspect for the first time in a court in Moulmein, the capital of Mon State, on Dec. 10.
Tin Soe Myint was allegedly killed by Captain Aung Ko Min of Light Infantry Battalion 587 based in Ye Township.
The victim’s wife, 36-year-old mother of three Khin Swe Tit, said she wanted to fight for justice for her husband, but could not afford to hire her own lawyer. She had been told she would be provided a government-appointed lawyer but had yet to meet the person, she said.
Khin Swe Tit told The Irrawaddy on Friday she had tried hard to bring the case to a civilian court, even writing letters to the Union president and the Myanmar Human Rights Commission.
She said she initially wanted to summon village authorities allegedly involved in the crime, but they are serving as defense witnesses.
“They [some village authorities] were involved in helping the captain kill my husband. I am worried about how I can win this case, as they act as witnesses for him,” Khin Swe Tit said.
She runs a small shop selling gasoline in Thanbyuzayat town, Mon State, to support her two children’s education. She earns 4,000 to 6,000 kyats a day. Her youngest is 4 years old, and she is not sure if she can afford to send the child to school, she said.
She said her family lives mostly in Kalegauk Island, Ye Township, but sometimes in Thanbyuzayat Township. Residents of the island are sometimes asked to show ID cards to Myanmar Army personnel, according to the woman.
On May 16, her husband was stopped by Army personnel and asked for his ID card, but he had left it at their home in Thanbyuzayat. So, according to Khin Swe Tit, Captain Aung Ko Min arrested and later tortured and killed him.
At the time of his arrest, Tin Soe Myint was accompanied by his father-in-law, Nai Chan Aye. He is serving as a witness on behalf of Khin Swe Tit. When Capt. Aung Ko Min took the victim to the Army base, he ordered Nai Chan Aye to go home.
Nai Chan Aye told Moulmein-based Mon News Agency that he eventually returned to the Army base where he planned to present a letter from the village head to prove the victim was indeed a resident. However, the victim was already dead, and his body had numerous bullet wounds, including on his legs. By this time, the captain himself had been detained by two senior Army officers and handcuffed to a piece of furniture, said Nai Chan Aye.
Khin Swe Tit said her husband did not know the captain, and had never had any personal problems with him. The captain killed her husband over a missing ID card, she said.
The next court hearing will be on Dec. 18 in Moulmein. The court will hear from the defense first.
“I want to see justice for my husband. [The suspect] is charged with murder. I want him to go to prison,” she said.