Myanmar Deputy Police Chief Reportedly Quits Amid Outcry Over Toddler Rape Case
By San Yamin Aung 18 September 2019
YANGON—Myanmar’s deputy police chief, who controversially accused a 29-year-old driver of being the offender in a high-profile toddler rape case at a private nursery school in Naypyitaw, was widely reported on Wednesday to have resigned his post, though officials denied the claims.
The reports of Police Major General Aung Naing Thu’s resignation came after the girl, who was only 2 years and 11 months old at the time of the crime on May 16, said two teenage brothers—and not the accused driver, Aung Gyi—were the perpetrators of the sexual assault in testimony given during the driver’s ongoing trial.
Aung Gyi is widely viewed as having been falsely accused.
Police Commander Myo Thu Soe, a spokesperson for the Myanmar Police Force, denied the reports of the senior officer’s resignation on Wednesday when contacted by The Irrawaddy.
While testifying, the victim pointed to photos of the brothers. She also said the younger one pounded her chest and the bigger brother pinched her vagina, the victim’s lawyer Daw Ywet Nu Aung said after the trial hearing on Sept. 11. Additionally, she said she did not know Aung Gyi when shown a photo of him.
The brothers are the sons of a teacher who also works at the school. Much of the public believe the two to be the real perpetrators based on the victim’s statement and interviews given by her parents, and that Aung Gyi, the school supervisor’s driver whom police filed the rape case against, is a scapegoat.
At a press briefing on July 5 in Naypyitaw, Police Maj-Gen Aung Naing Thu stood by the police’s decision to re-arrest Aung Gyi not long after he was released by a court for lack of evidence. The deputy national police chief told the media at the time that Aung Gyi was the only male who entered the nursery school on the day of the crime, adding that a test had found semen on his underwear.
“Based on the evidence we have found, we have charged him,” the officer said during the press conference. However, a test showed that DNA evidence did not match Aung Gyi.
The police chief’s statement was met with widespread public condemnation, including on Facebook, where large numbers of commenters cast serious doubt on the police’s conclusions.
Critics of the investigation questioned the reason for the re-arrest of the suspect after he had been released by a court, while others thought it unlikely that a girl less than 3 years old would survive a sexual assault by a 29-year-old man. Some wondered if he was a scapegoat.
Legal experts and lawyers also expressed serious doubts as to the police’s conclusion and pointed to contradictions in their findings.
A source said the deputy police chief was allowed to resign for health reasons this week.
The Irrawaddy made several attempts to reach the deputy police chief by phone on Wednesday but the calls went unanswered. However, a text message sent from his number denied the reports of his resignation.
The President’s Office said last Friday it was closely monitoring the case and would ensure accountability and responsibility if police were found to have mishandled the case.
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