Yangon Attorney General, Five Others Arrested for Corruption in Comedian’s Murder Case

By San Yamin Aung 13 September 2018

YANGON—Myanmar’s Anti-Corruption Commission has filed cases against the attorney general of Yangon Region and five other officials including a judge, law officers and a police officer for accepting more than 70 million kyats (nearly US$46,300) to drop the case against three suspects in the murder of Facebook comedian Aung Yell Htwe.

In an announcement on Thursday, the commission said it had found that Yangon Region Attorney General U Han Htoo; Judge U Aung Kyi from the Yangon Eastern District Court; Yangon Region law officer U Thein Zaw; Yangon Eastern District law officer U Ko Ko Lay; Yangon Eastern District deputy law officer Daw Thit Thit Khin; and Police Lieutenant Chit Ko Ko took bribes from U Khin Maung Lay, father of suspect Than Htut Aung (a.k.a Thar Gyi), in exchange for their roles in dropping the case.

Anti-Corruption Commission spokesperson U Kyaw Soe told The Irrawaddy that the accused received a total of 72 million kyats (nearly US$46,300) in cash, along with other gifts including bottles of Blue and Gold Label Scotch Whisky, as bribes. Judge U Aung Kyi received the largest sum—33 million kyats (nearly $21,200)—while the attorney general received 15 million kyats (nearly $9,600).

The commission confirmed to The Irrawaddy that all six of the accused have been detained at Thuwunna Police Station.

Cases against the suspects have been opened under two different articles of the Anti-Corruption Law. If found guilty they face maximum sentences of between 10 and 15 years in prison under the Anti-Corruption Law.

Than Htut Aung is one of three suspects in the fatal beating of Aung Yell Htwe who surrendered themselves in the presence of their parents soon after the incident in January 2018. All of them were controversially freed on July 25 by the Yangon Eastern District Court. The court’s decision is being reviewed by the Yangon High Court.

The Anti-Corruption Commission said on Thursday that Yangon Region Attorney General U Han Htoo approved a request from the victim’s family to drop the case without making a full assessment in exchange for a bribe from U Khin Maung Lay.

The commission filed the case against U Han Htoo under Article 55 of the Anti-Corruption Law on Thursday at Yangon’s Thuwunna Police Station.

Article 55 states that any political post holder convicted of committing bribery shall be imprisoned for not more than 15 years and fined.

Judge U Aung Kyi of the Yangon Eastern District Court released the three murder suspects in exchange for a bribe from the same person, the commission said in the announcement.

Police prosecutor Lt. Chit Ko Ko also took a bribe from Than Htut Aung’s father and then failed to fully investigate the case according to police procedure, thereby abusing his power, it said.

According to the commission, law officers U Thein Zaw, U Ko Ko Lay and Daw Thit Thit Khin allegedly intentionally built the murder case in such a way that it would be adjudged as lacking sufficient grounds to warrant further investigation.

The commission opened cases against all five under Article 56 of the Anti-Corruption Law. Article 56 states that, “Other than the Political Post Holder, if any other Authorized  Person  is  convicted for  committing  bribery; he/she shall  be  punished  with  imprisonment  for  a  term of not more than 10 years and with a fine.”

The commission said it would present U Khin Maung Lay as a plaintiff witness. In exchange for his testimony, the commission will not file a case against him, it said.

The case is the second-biggest the ACC has opened since it was founded in 2017. The biggest was its investigation into alleged corruption by the country’s then finance minister, U Kyaw Win, in May. The commission dropped the case in June as the complaints against him could not be substantiated. U Kyaw Win resigned from the post.