Burma

5 Policemen Charged for Releasing Timber Smugglers

By Htun Htun 24 May 2018

YANGON — Five police officers including the police station head in Mandalay’s Kyaukse Township were charged by a police court on Wednesday after they released two teak smugglers and reported a seizure of abandoned timber instead.

The police court of the Mandalay Region police force investigated the case after other policemen reported that those five police officers took a bribe from the timber smugglers and released them.

After three days of interrogation beginning on Monday, the court decided to charge the five under the police code of conduct.

The five are the former head of the Kyaukse Township police station police captain Myint Oo, the new head police captain Win Naing, police lieutenant Than Htike, police sub-lieutenant Ko Ko Lin and police lance corporal Chit San Ko.

Police major Win Zaw, the commander of the Kyaukse Township police force, declined to comment about the trial when asked by The Irrawaddy. He was not detained in spite of his alleged involvement in the case.

Police constables Tun Tun Win and Zeyar Maung arrested two smugglers and seized their timber on April 25 in Kyaukse. The two constables brought the smugglers to the police station, but police captain Myint Oo released them and registered the case as a seizure of abandoned timber.

The police constables with the assistance of the Kyaukse Township 88 Generation Peace and Open Society filed a complaint with the deputy home affairs minister on May 2 against the police officers.

The two police constables claimed that police captain Myint Oo scolded them in his office in the presence of newly transferred police captain Win Naing. Myint Oo was quoted as saying: “Who asked you to arrest them. The commander of the township police force [police major Win Zaw] is now asking me to release them.”

Police lieutenant Than Htike and police lance corporal Chit San Ko then put the two smugglers into the car of Aung Soe Moe, a local of Pyi Pan village in Kyaukse, and let them go.

The commander of the Mandalay Region police force arrested the five on May 7 and verbally asked police major Win Zaw to resign, said a policeman of the Kyaukse police station on condition of anonymity.

Police also arrested Aung Soe Moe on May 9 and charged him under the Public Property Protection Act.

However, the two timber smugglers are still at large.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.

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