Key Witnesses, CCTV Footage to be Presented in Resumed Comedian Murder Trial

By San Yamin Aung 24 September 2018

YANGON — The Yangon Region High Court on Monday decided to press ahead with the murder case against the alleged killers of Facebook comedian Aung Yell Htwe.

On Monday, the High Court annulled a lower court’s ruling to drop the case and release of three suspects in the fatal beating. It also ordered for the murder trial to be resumed.

The three suspects—Than Htut Aung (aka Thar Gyi), Pyae Phyo Aung (aka Aung Lay) and Kyaw Zaw Han (aka Kyaw Zaw)—were released on July 25 after the Yangon Eastern District Court accepted an appeal from the victim’s family asking to settle the case.

Daw Nwe Nwe Oo, media and communications officer and deputy director of the High Court, said the trial will resume at Yangon Eastern District Court and the remaining witnesses in the case will testify.

“We will refer the case back to the [Eastern District] Court as soon as possible this week,” she said.

Right after the case arrives at the district court this week, the suspects will be re-arrested.

The High Court’s decision has come following the intervention of state leaders which was prompted by mounting public criticism over the withdrawal of the case.

“The lower court’s decision has been annulled as the withdrawal of the case disrupts law and order and could encourage similar cases,” Daw Nwe Nwe Oo said.

Yangon Region’s attorney general and five other officials including a judge, law officers and a police officer have been arrested for taking bribes in exchange for their roles in dropping the case. The Anti-Corruption Commission has opened cases against the officials under two different articles of the Anti-Corruption Law.

Yangon Region Attorney General U Han Htoo was expelled from his post soon after his arrest on Sept. 13.

Before the case was dropped July 25, the Eastern District Court heard from 14 of 22 witnesses for the plaintiff. Lawyers pointed out that the court had yet to call key witnesses in the case including a forensic pathologist and police investigators, while CCTV records were also not produced.