Court Hears Sentencing Appeals for U Ko Ni Murder Conspirators

By Htun Htun 25 June 2019

YANGON—The Yangon Region High Court has heard appeals from both the prosecution and the defense against the sentences handed to two of four men convicted in connection with the 2017 murder of U Ko Ni, a prominent lawyer and legal adviser to the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD).

While prosecution lawyers argued that the two convicts did not receive fitting punishments for their roles in the assassination, defense lawyers complained the sentences were too harsh.

On Feb. 15, the Yangon Northern District Court sentenced Zeya Phyo to five years in prison under Section 201 of the Penal Code for falsifying evidence, though he was initially charged with murder. Aung Win Tun was sentenced to three years in prison for harboring a criminal; the maximum sentence is five years.

“Because we think the punishments are not fitting, we submitted a proposal to have them adjusted,” said prosecution lawyer U Khin Maung Htay.

U Ko Ni was shot dead in broad daylight outside Yangon International Airport on Jan. 29, 2017.  Police apprehended the convicted gunman, Kyi Lin, after he also shot dead a taxi driver who assisted in his arrest. Police later arrested three co-conspirators—Aung Win Zaw, Aung Win Tun and Zeya Phyo, all ex-military officers.

The alleged mastermind of the murder, former Lieutenant Colonel Aung Win Khaing, remains at large.

Kyi Lin and Aung Win Zaw were sentenced to death; the two appealed their sentences directly to the Supreme Court of the Union. The prosecution has asked the Supreme Court to let the sentences stand.

Zeya Phyo has already been sentenced to five years in prison for holding several national IDs, and therefore faces a total of 10 years’ imprisonment.

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