The Irrawaddy

5 of 9 Suspects in Sittwe Bombings Released

Ko Naing Soe was released on March 26. /Min Aung Khine/The Irrawaddy

SITTWE, Rakhine State — Five of nine suspects detained over a series of bomb attacks that injured a police officer in the third week of February in Rakhine State’s Sittwe were released on Monday.

Ko Naing Soe, also known as Mae Lone, an executive committee member of the Arakan National Council (ANC), was among those who were released on Monday.

Others include locals Ko Shwe Tun Aung, Ko Maung Myint Shwe, Ko Tun Myint Shwe and Ko Maung Thein Nu.

Ko Naing Soe was charged by police under multiple articles of the Counter-Terrorism Law that carry a minimum prison sentence of 10 years.

“My arrest is ridiculing the rule of law. When will Myanmar achieve peace if police, who are supposed to enforce the law, do not respect the law and oppress the people? The fact that they are trying to forcibly arrest us is insulting the law,” Ko Naing Soe told the media upon his release.

According to police procedure, suspects shall not be held on remand for more than 30 days. After eight of nine detainees spent 30 days in prison on remand, police still could not find evidence to bring them to trial and asked the court to extend their remand on other charges.

The court only approved the extension for three suspects—two over the charge of illegally crossing the border, and one for a bomb blast in Mrauk-U—and ordered the release of the five others.

Three bombs exploded in Sittwe on Feb. 24, respectively in front of the Sittwe Court, in the backyard of an outspoken state government secretary, Tin Maung Swe, and in front of the Land Records Department.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.