Examination of Murder Charges Begins in U Ko Ni Assassination Trial

By Tin Htet Paing 31 March 2017

RANGOON — Rangoon’s Northern District Court began an examination of the murder charges in the assassination of prominent lawyer U Ko Ni as the suspects made their third appearance at the court on Friday.

Shooter Kyi Lin and three alleged co-perpetrators—Aung Win Zaw, Aung Win Khaing and Zeya Phyo—are being charged under Article 302 of the Penal Code for homicide. According to the lawyers who are handling the case, there are about 80 witnesses who will testify for the murder.

The head of Mingalardon Township police station Moe Naing submitted the case. He was examined by defense attorneys U Aung Khaing, who represented Aung Win Zaw, and U Kyaw Kyaw Htike, who represented Kyi Lin.

U Ko Ni, legal adviser to Burma’s ruling party the National League for Democracy, was shot by Kyi Lin outside Rangoon International Airport on the afternoon of Jan. 29. The police’s claim that Aung Win Zaw was with the gunman at the airport terminal, said the defense attorney, will only be legitimatized when the airport’s CCTV control room presents CCTV footage to the court.

The gunman also fatally shot an airport taxi driver, U Nay Win, while attempting to flee the scene. Kyi Lin was immediately apprehended at the crime scene.

Authorities have so far named five suspects; gunman Kyi Lin, alleged co-perpetrators Aung Win Zaw, Aung Win Khaing and Zeya Phyo, and Aung Win Tun, who is accused of harboring a criminal. Four of the suspects are currently detained; however, Aung Win Khaing, a former lieutenant colonel in the Burma Army, remains at large.

Lawyer U Nay La, who represents U Ko Ni’s family, told The Irrawaddy on Friday that the trial is in its initial stages.

“When CCTV footage is presented in court as evidence, everything will be clarified,” he said.

Some questions from Kyi Lin’s defense lawyer U Kyaw Kyaw Htike to the police official were concerned with alleged co-perpetrator Aung Win Zaw and unrelated to his client, said U Nay La.

The next court hearing is scheduled for April 7.

Zeya Phyo, a former military intelligence officer, is also charged under Article 67 of the Telecommunications Law for the possession of restricted telecommunications equipment and Article 468 of the Penal Code for the forgery of national identity cards.

Two of the suspects; gunman Kyi Lin and alleged co-conspirator Aung Win Zaw, are being charged under Article 19(d) and (f) of the country’s 1878 Arms Act for illegal arms possession and transportation, in addition to the homicide charge.

The trial opened last week with the illegal arms possession and transportation charges against Kyi Lin and Aung Win Zaw, in which defense attorney U Aung Khaing examined the Mingalardon Township police official Mya Tun Kyaw who submitted the case for these charges.

U Aung Khaing told The Irrawaddy after the court hearing last week that there was no police report showing that the guns and bullets seized from the shooter Kyi Lin were associated with his client Aung Win Zaw.

Without such a police statement, Aung Win Zaw could not be indicted on charges of illegal arms possession or transportation, according to his attorney.