Myanmar Police Call on Thailand, Laos in Case Against AA Chief's Relatives
By Nan Lwin Hnin Pwint 31 January 2020
YANGON—Myanmar police have asked for help from intelligence units in Thailand and Laos in their search for evidence to charge relatives of Arakan Army (AA) chief Tun Myat Naing, according to a statement by Police Captain Min Khaing of the Special Branch of the Myanmar police on Thursday.
On Oct. 19, police arrested Tun Myat Naing’s brother-in-law U Kyaw Naing at Yangon International Airport as he arrived from Thailand. Police also arrested U Kyaw Naing’s wife Ma Ya Min Myat, who is the AA chief’s sister, as she came to the airport to pick up her husband.
Capt. Min Khaing has opened a case against the couple under Section 52 of the Counterterrorism Law for allegedly financing terrorism. Police have said the charges are linked to explosive materials seized by police in Mandalay in September. If convicted, the pair face three to seven years in prison.
In a hearing in the case on Thursday at the Yangon Western District Court, Capt. Min Khaing said that U Kyaw Naing went from Thailand into Laos on Sept. 28 with U Maung Maung Soe, a suspect in September’s seizure of explosive materials in Mandalay. The two stayed together in Laos and U Kyaw Naing reportedly returned to Thailand on Sept. 30. U Kyaw Naing reportedly paid for their trip and also gave 2,000 Thai baht (US$64.24) to U Maung Maung Soe.
Police have issued an arrest warrant for U Maung Maung Soe.
Capt. Min Khaing submitted a picture at Thursday’s hearing of U Kyaw Naing, his daughter and U Maung Maung Soe shopping at the Central Plaza mall in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
The photo, according to the police captain, was sent by intelligence units in Thailand and Laos to the Viber account of the chief inspector of the Special Branch of the Myanmar Police. The photo was then forwarded by Viber to Capt. Win Kyaw.
The lawyer for the defense raised an objection to the photo evidence, saying that the evidence doesn’t belong to Capt. Win Kyaw, the complainant, but rather to the person who took the photo. The court will give its decision about whether or not to accept the photo as evidence at the next hearing on Feb. 6, according to information officer for Yangon Western District Court U Zaw Zaw Tun.
The AA is currently embroiled in a serious conflict with the Myanmar military in northern Rakhine State. Since late 2018, the fighting has displaced some 160,000 civilians and hundreds have been killed, injured or detained.
Bilateral ceasefire talks between the AA and the government have been on hold since mid-September.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko
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