Court to Investigate Disappearance of CCTV Evidence in Myanmar Toddler Rape Case

By Zarni Mann 4 December 2019

MANDALAY—The court in Naypyitaw’s Dekkhinathiri District said on Wednesday that it will inspect a CCTV hard disk to try to determine how key video evidence in the prominent toddler rape case disappeared, according to lawyers.

Daw Ywat Nu Aung, the lawyer for the victim, told journalists after a court session that the inspection of the hard disk will happen on Dec. 17 with the help of technicians in the presence of the judge and police.

“We will soon find out why the CCTV evidence disappeared and this will help a lot in the case to achieve justice,” said Daw Ywat Nu Aung.

Court advocate U Kyaw Min Aung confirmed that the court will conduct the inspection systematically. He added that if the original records are not found, the court will follow the procedures dictated by the President’s Office.

The CCTV evidence submitted to the court includes the 11 videos from May 16, the day of the incident. Ko Yan Naung Htay, the technician from the school, downloaded the video files from the CCTV recorder’s hard drive to a USB stick and gave it to the police.

Lawyers who saw the CCTV files that were recorded to the USB and submitted to the court told the media that the recorded files were corrupted three times, for 11 minutes, eight minutes and five minutes each, in both the afternoon and evening.

Both the memory stick and the hard disk from the CCTV recorder were then given to the police, though the hard disk was later given back to the school. The hard disk was later submitted to the court by the school. At some point in this process, the files disappeared from the hard disk.

In a previous court session, Ko Yan Naung Htay told the court that he didn’t know why the files had disappeared from the hard disk.

At the 12th court hearing in the case, nursery school supervisor Daw Ohnmar Hlaing, the teacher who works in the victim’s class and the teacher who was with the victim on the school bus all testified.

According to the lawyers for Aung Gyi, the driver of Daw Ohnmar Hlaing who has been accused of committing the rape, the testimonies of the teachers clearly showed that their client was not with the victim when the incident occurred.

“All of the teachers’ testimonies stated that Aung Gyi was sitting throughout [the whole incident] in the waiting area, and that the victim was with the teachers the whole time. This clearly means our client could not be the culprit,” said U Khin Maung Zaw, lawyer for the defendant.

The defendant’s lawyers said they will move forward to bail out Aung Gyi in the next court hearing on Dec. 18. Daw Hnin Nu, the teacher who allegedly cleaned the victim after the incident, will also be summoned to the court for the hearing.

The toddler, dubbed “Victoria” on social media, was 2 years old at the time of the crime in May.

A complaint was filed on May 17 against Aung Gyi, also known as Aung Kyaw Myo, over the sexual assault of the girl. Aung Gyi was detained but released in late June after DNA evidence showed his sperm did not match that found on the girl’s body.

However, he was later rearrested and charged on July 4 under Article 376 of the Penal Code.

Victoria’s case has sparked widespread condemnation and interest across the country. Many believe Aung Gyi has been used as a scapegoat and that the actual culprits are still at large.

The lawyers of the defendant and the victim, the family of the victim, and those helping the victim’s family, are being sued by Daw Ohnmar Hlaing for allegedly submitting an “illegal” video showing the victim pointing to pictures of her two sons and allegedly using their nicknames when talking to the media.

Htet Naing Zaw and Moe Moe contributed to this story.