Inquiry Launched into Police Death Plunge Teen

By The Irrawaddy 1 May 2012

An investigation has been launched into the death of a 19-year old ethnic Shan woman who fell from a Rangoon police station window after three days of interrogation.

Nang Wo Phan died at 5 am on March 24 after plummeting from the Police Bureau of Special Investigations building in Kyauktada Township in the center of the former capital.

Her grief-stricken husband, Motohuko Namase, told a press conference last month that his wife leapt from the fifth floor window due to her brutal interrogation.

Phone Myint Aung, an independent MP for Rangoon Region Constituency 3, investigated the case and presented his findings to Upper House Speaker Khin Aung Myint, according to the victims’ family.

“Her husband and family went to Phone Myint Aung to make a complaint which he then presented to the speaker,” said a family member. “All we want is justice.”

However, as the Parliament is due to close in the next few days, the case will have to wait to be discussed in the next session. The family originally made a complaint to the Bureau of Special Investigations office but they refused to investigate the matter.

“She was only 19 years old and the police only gave her two hours rest per day and all the other time she was being constantly interrogated,” Namase, who is a Japanese national, told the March press conference. “She was afraid of this and that is why her mental state deteriorated and why she eventually jumped.”

Her husband had purchased land worth three billion kyat (US $3.9 million) under Nang Wo Phan’s name in Rangoon. But a trusted employee then claimed that he actually owned all the land so she went to Hlaing Tharya Township police station to complain.

However, officers did not follow up Nang Wo Phan’s complaints but instead arrested and interrogated her for three days straight about where she found the money to buy the land, claims her lawyer Ei Ei Aung.

Namase accused the police of being in league with the man who allegedly stole from them, adding that Nang Wo Phan, originally from Mong Pahlyo Township in Shan State, was the initial complainant and there was no rule of law due to police corruption.

“She was too young to be interrogated in such an aggressive manner,” he said. “I heard the guy bribed the police with a car to arrest and investigate her instead.

“It’s not an accident that she fell from the window. This country says it has democracy and the full rule of law but where is this all now?”

The police have claimed that Nang Wo Phan’s death is an accident and deny the allegations made by her family.

Two journalists from Yangon Press International and The Voice Weekly were threatened by police officers from the Bureau of Special Investigation when they went to cover the incident, according to local reports.

Bureau of Special Investigations officers have refused to disclose any information about the incident and even intimidated nearby office workers not to discuss what happened, sources in the city have claimed.