Burma

Ex-Minister’s Son Takes the Stand in Drugs, Weapons Trial

By Kyaw Myo 23 July 2019

NAYPYITAW—The Dekkhinathiri District Court in Naypyitaw on Monday heard for the first time from a former sports minister’s son who is standing trial for illegal possession of firearms and illicit drugs.

U Phyo Ko Ko Tint Sint, the suspected owner of a haul of illicit drugs and weapons seized in 2017, was cross-examined for the first time after the court completed cross-questioning of over 200 prosecution witnesses over the past year.

Lawyers for the prosecution and the defense questioned the defendant about the drug haul for around three hours.

Police detained U Phyo Ko Ko Tint San, the owner of ACE Co. and the son of the sports minister during U Thein Sein’s administration, along with two of his employees at Naypyitaw Airport in October 2017 after discovering 12 yaba tablets, 1.5 grams of methamphetamine, two pistols and 72 bullets in his backpack.

Further investigation led to the seizure of about 30 firearms and more bullets and drugs at the ACE Hotel, a property belonging to U Phyo Ko Ko Tint San’s company, and his houses in Naypyitaw and Yangon.

At the trial, U Phyo Ko Ko Tint San testified that he did not live at the house in Golden Valley in Yangon’s Bahan Township where drugs were found.

He said his wife had bought the house some two years earlier, but he had only been there twice to check the conditions of the house and its compound. He said he had never lived there and that he only kept caretakers there to guard the house.

He also denied owning the bag filled with drugs found in the house. He was in Naypyitaw when police searched the house, he added.

The defendant also submitted a household registration certificate to the court showing that he and his family live in a house in Thaketa Township.

As proof of his trustworthiness, he submitted his civil engineering degree as well as certificates of honor and medals he earned from the Myanmar Engineering Society and the ASEAN Federation of Engineering Organizations in relation to the construction of the parliamentary complex in Naypyitaw.

The next trial session was due to take place on Tuesday.

U Phyo Ko Ko Tint San is charged with 14 offenses. The laws he is accused of violating include Article 67 of the Telecommunications Law for possessing walkie-talkies, Article 8 of the Export/Import Law for possessing drones, and Article 61(a) of the State Secrets Act for the unauthorized use of the National Security Council (NSC) logo on cars and possession of bullet-proof vests and camouflage jackets with SWAT badges similar to those worn by the president’s bodyguards.

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