NAYPYIDAW — The Burma Army was not involved in the assassination of National League for Democracy (NLD) legal adviser U Ko Ni despite the fact that ex-military officers are suspected of being behind the conspiracy, said chief of general staff Gen Mya Tun Oo.
The general dismissed the speculation as he answered questions from journalists at a military press conference in Naypyidaw on Tuesday regarding Mong Ko clashes and issues in Arakan State.
U Ko Ni was shot dead on Jan. 29 at the Rangoon International Airport.
With the exception of assassin Kyi Lin, all three suspected conspirators are ex-military officers. Aung Win Zaw was a captain, his younger brother Aung Win Khaing served as a lieutenant colonel and Zeya Phyo was a captain in the Burma Army.
Police have arrested Kyi Lin, Aung Win Zaw, and Zeya Phyo, but Aung Win Khaing is still at-large. Police also interrogated former colonel Lin Zaw Htun, who was mentioned as a friend of two of the suspects.
U Lin Zaw Htun has denied accusations of withholding information regarding the assassination of the Muslim lawyer.
“Even if he [Lin Zaw Htun] is involved, it has nothing to do with the Tatmadaw [Burma Army]. He has resigned from the army. The Tatmadaw is not involved, even if he is found of guilty, said Gen Mya Tun Oo.
U Lin Zaw Htun served as the personal security officer of Burma Army Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing and retired from the army as a colonel in 2015 to run for office under the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). He is a current USDP lawmaker for Monghpyak Township in eastern Shan State.
“The army chief asked if he would like to stay in the army or switch to civilian service, and he chose to be transferred to civilian service,” explained Gen Mya Tun Oo.
He attended a diploma course in law as a preparation and was allowed to resign from the army when he received the diploma.
So far, no evidence has shown his involvement in U Ko Ni’s assassination, said the general.
“If he [U Lin Zaw Htun] is involved, he will be investigated and punished according to the law. The Tatmadaw is providing technical support to smooth the [investigation] process,” said the general.
He said Aung Win Zaw is a graduate of the 34th intake of the Defense Services Academy (DSA), and was expelled from the army in 1996 for a case that sent him to jail.
Aung Win Khaing retired as a lieutenant colonel from the army of his own volition in 2014. He served as a general staff officer, a rank higher than battalion commander.
Zeya Phyo is a graduate of the 38th intake of the DSA. He retired as a captain in 2004 under unclear circumstances and established four companies, according to the home affairs ministry’s press conference on Saturday.
“Police are investigating and the Tatmadaw is assisting. Regarding speculation that there is a mastermind behind the assassination, we have to wait for further investigation,” said the general.
At the press conference, Gen Mya Tun Oo repeatedly denied any military involvement in U Ko Ni’s assassination, despite the suspected involvement of former military officials.