Armed Group Helps Drug Defendant Abscond from Police Custody

By Nang Seng Nom 17 June 2015

RANGOON — A defendant in a drug trial was abducted from a police van while being transported from Shan State’s Taung Lay Lone Prison from a hearing at the Taunggyi District Court on Tuesday.

A group of armed men dressed in camouflage intercepted the police van, which was carrying eight defendants, at a village in Nyaungshwe Township west of Taunggyi at around 5pm. Local police officer Hsan Lwin said that Khun Nang, currently on trial for drug trafficking charges, was taken away by the group.

“A white Toyota Mark II blocked the police van carrying the defendants and four men got out of the car,” he told The Irrawaddy. “Three had rifles and the fourth had a handgun. They aimed their weapons at police and told them to take the handcuffs off Khun Nang before taking him into their car.”

Khun Nang, a resident of Demoso, Karenni State, was arrested in September 2014 after he was allegedly caught in possession of 1,960 stimulant tablets at an inspection post in Kalaw while traveling on a coach from Loikaw to Rangoon.

Police have not yet identified the affiliation of the group that helped Khun Nang abscond from police custody and are tightening security at the entrances and exits of nearby towns to block the escape of the men.

Tin Maung Toe, chairman of National League for Democracy’s Taunggyi office, said the event was unprecedented for the area.

“It has never happened in Taunggyi before,” he said. “That an armed group were able to grab a defendant is quite unusual.”