Anti-Corruption Commission to Look into Decision to Drop Comedian’s Murder Case

By San Yamin Aung 3 August 2018

YANGON — Myanmar’s Anti-Corruption Commission will look into allegations of corruption in the controversial decision to drop an investigation into the murder of Facebook comedian Aung Yell Htwe.

In a statement issued Friday, the commission acknowledged that news reports had spread suggesting the case might have resulted from corrupt activity. The agency said the commisioners had unanimously agreed on Thursday to look into the case, before deciding whether there was sufficient evidence that violations of the Anti-Corruption Law had taken place to warrant an investigation.

Under amendments to the Anti-Corruption Law passed in June, the commission can initiate investigations of civil servants widely suspected to be corrupt, and news reports of such suspicions can be taken into consideration.

Three suspects in the fatal beating of Aung Yell Htwe were released on July 25 as the Yangon Eastern District Court accepted an appeal from the victim’s family asking to settle the case.

According to leaked court documents that went viral online, Yangon Region Attorney General U Han Htoo approved the request from the victim’s family to drop the case, citing a lack of evidence implicating the accused.

The release of murder suspects without any charges being filed led to a public outcry and prompted calls by lawyers, lawmakers and activists to investigate officials involved in the decision to drop the case.

Lawyer U Htay told The Irrawaddy on Monday that approval from the court and from the Yangon attorney general’s office were required to continue investigating the case under the Anti-Corruption Law.

The commission’s first announcement regarding the case was released after President U Win Myint met with Union Chief Justice U Htun Htun Oo, Union Attorney General U Tun Tun Oo and Anti-Corruption Commission head U Aung Kyi on Tuesday morning at the Presidential Palace in Naypyitaw.

During the meeting, the President told the Union officials to investigate the reasons for the dropping of the case and to see that justice was served in accordance with the law.

On Tuesday, the Yangon Region High Court summoned the three suspects — Than Htut Aung (a.k.a Thar Gyi), Pyae Phyo Aung (a.k.a Aung Lay) and Kyaw Zaw Han (a.k.a Kyaw Zaw).