Four Arakanese Facing Charges for Murder of Army Intelligence
By Moe Myint 15 January 2019
YANGON—Four Arakanese men are being officially sued under Article 302 of the Penal Code in connection with the killing of a member of a military affairs unit Corp. Win Htike in Rakhine State’s capital of Sittwe last September.
Defense lawyer for the four suspects, U Tun Aung Kyaw, confirmed that the court accepted the lawsuit on Monday. He explained that the victim’s wife will act as a plaintiff in the case.
Two of the accused, Ko Aung Zaw Lin and Ko Khine Thaw, are Arakanese activists who are members of the Arakan Youth Conference (AYC), while Ko May Yu Tun is a member of the Arakan National Party (ANP). The three were arrested in October 2018 in different locations in Rakhine State but later granted bail, with police saying they hadn’t found enough solid evidence to construct a case against them.
In November, the police arrested the fourth suspect in Yangon on suspicion of gunning down the military-affiliated officer who was a fellow member of the ANP. After a series of interrogations by Sittwe police over the course of two weeks, the suspect was beaten and allegedly forced to confess to the police accusations. The suspect Ko Ye Zaw received medical treatment in Sittwe General Hospital in December following the interrogations.
According to U Tun Aung Kyaw, the investigation officer has submitted evidence to the court which contains clothing worn by the victim, an empty bullet round and a handbag as well as some group photos of the three Arakanese activists. The police handed a list of 30 plaintiff witness names to the court.
“Well, I am pretty sure that all three Arakanese have nothing to do with this murder case. We truly believe that they are innocent and that they are being unfairly treated,” said U Tun Aung Kyaw.
The lawyer claimed that Ko May Yu Tun was not even in the capital when military intelligence official was shot down at close range. Ko May Yu Tun was helping the 2018 by-election candidate for the ANP alongside an Arakanese Union lawmaker Daw Khin Saw Wai on the day of the incident.
The other two suspects, Ko Aung Zaw Lin and Ko Khin Thaw were socializing with friends at Sittwe strand on the night in question. U Tun Aung Kyaw claimed that the fourth suspect Ko Ye Zaw was also not in Sittwe, as he had already returned from Sittwe to Yangon on Sept. 19. He said that they have already provided travel itinerary to the authorities as a proof.
“I can’t imagine how they are going to examine some group photos of three Arakanese as evidence in the court,” said U Tun Aung Kyaw.
An Arakanese activist and Sittwe resident Ko Min Bar Chay who attended the initial court hearing of the four detainees on Monday also said that the process of the authorities is very questionable at this point as they granted bail for three of the suspects and then re-arrested them without further explanation.
Another defense lawyer Daw Aye Nu Sein confirmed that the three Arakanese were re-arrested on Monday and the next court sitting will take place on Wednesday.