Burma

Lawyer in U Ko Ni Murder Calls for Naypyidaw Arrest Warrant in Search for Fugitive

By Tin Htet Paing 28 April 2017

RANGOON — The lawyer representing the family of the National League for Democracy’s (NLD) assassinated legal adviser U Ko Ni presented a criminal revision petition to the Rangoon Division High Court on Friday, requesting that the judge issue an arrest warrant in Naypyidaw for fugitive Aung Win Khaing.

The man is suspected of involvement in the case but remains at large: Naypyidaw is where he was last seen.

Prominent lawyer U Ko Ni was shot by gunman Kyi Lin outside Rangoon International Airport on the afternoon of Jan. 29. Police have put forward four suspects: Kyi Lin, and alleged co-conspirators Zeya Phyo, Aung Win Zaw and Aung Win Tun.

Lawyer U Nay La initially requested that the northern district court issue the warrant in Naypyidaw in March, but it ruled against the move. He also claimed that the district court has been handling the case “carelessly” and is “weak” in examining the case surrounding the fugitive in accordance with designated procedures.

On Friday’s plea at the High Court, U Nay La explained the purpose of his filing: the police order dated Feb. 15 calling for the arrest of Aung Win Khaing was sent to only six of the force’s stations—in Dawbon, Tharketa, Bahan, Mingalardon, Gyobinkaut and Meikhtila townships. The first warrant issued by the district court on Mar. 3—before the trial—only covered Aung Win Khaing’s home address in Rangoon’s Dawbon Township.

An arrest warrant that only allows for a fugitive to be apprehended at his permanent address is unfitting for the situation, U Nay La said at the High Court.

According to police reports, there is no record that Aung Win Khaing has passed through the country’s border gates since the assassination, U Nay La said, and therefore it is assumed that he is still in the country. The lawyer then emphasized the need to issue an arrest warrant in Naypyidaw.

In early April, police chief Maj-Gen Zaw Win told reporters at a press conference in Naypyidaw that the police had combed through all eight townships and villages in the administrative capital for the fugitive, promising that they “would go to the ends of the earth to find him.”

U Nay La told The Irrawaddy on Friday that police announcements describing their search efforts are separate from the court proceedings and “will not be considered” until the police make statements on the matter in court.

“The court has to do its job, no matter what the police are doing,” he said.

He also said he would withdraw his plea for a criminal revision of the case if there is a law restricting the issuance of a second warrant with a new address. U Nay La said it was possible that issuing another warrant could delay the trial, but noted that a delay leading to a thorough examination would be better than rushing the case and glossing over important details.

“Examining the case without trying to bring all suspects to the court is not beneficial for anyone,” he said, highlighting how U Ko Ni’s murder is a high-profile case being closely monitored by the local and international community.

The Rangoon Division High Court did not provide a date by which a decision would be made regarding U Nay La’s proposal.

Shooter Kyi Lin and three alleged co-perpetrators—Aung Win Zaw, Aung Win Khaing and Zeya Phyo—are being charged under Article 302 of Burma’s Penal Code for murder. 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 murder charge.

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