Myanmar Police Slam Court for Freeing Suspect in Toddler Rape

By San Yamin Aung 19 December 2019

YANGON — Myanmar’s police say the court’s release of detained driver Ko Aung Gyi, who is accused in the high-profile toddler rape case in Naypyitaw, was premature, as the investigation remains incomplete.

The police said they were standing by their allegations against him.

At a press conference after the driver’s release, Police Brigadier General Soe Naing Oo of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) said police were surprised by the court’s decision.

“We expected that the court would make a decision only after it heard from all the witnesses and studied key evidence. But the suspect was released even before being charged by the court,” he said. “It is still too early to do so.”

Naypyitaw’s Dekkhinathiri District Court on Wednesday released Ko Aung Gyi (also known as Aung Kyaw Myo), who faces rape charges.

It had heard from 19 witnesses and no one, including the victim and teachers at the Wisdom Hill nursery school, had given any evidence to implicate him.

It is the second time he has been released by the court on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

Ko Aung Gyi, 29, was arrested on May 30 on suspicion of raping the toddler on his first day on the job as the driver for the school’s supervisor. He was released by the court in June for lack of evidence.

The police, however, detained him again in July, saying he was the only male who entered the nursery school on the day of the crime.

The police said tests showed semen on his underwear and filed the rape charges.

The victim pointed to photos of the two teenage sons of the school supervisor and not the driver as the perpetrators of the sexual assault in testimony.

Additionally, she said she did not recognize Ko Aung Gyi when shown a photo of him. Based on the victim’s statement and interviews given by her parents, most members of the public appear to believe the two teenagers to be the real perpetrators while Ko Aung Gyi is seen as a scapegoat.

The boys’ father is Police Lieutenant Yan Naung Soe. Five police officers are among the remaining witnesses to be called.

On Thursday, the police repeated earlier conclusions and said Ko Aung Gyi was the only possible offender in the case. They said there was no possibility that the two teenage brothers were the offenders.

“The two teenagers did not come to school that day,” the police director general told the press conference.

Ko Aung Gyi’s lawyer U Khin Maung Zaw told The Irrawaddy that he had no concerns about the police claims against his client.

“They are just defending themselves, saying they did nothing wrong,” he said. “Now they have to find the real perpetrators and, if they don’t, it raises questions about why not.”

Brig-Gen Soe Naing Oo identified the victim and her mother, shocking the public who were watching the live-streamed event on the police’s Facebook page. He was quickly condemned online as appearing “unconcerned” about the victim.

The three-year-old has been dubbed “Victoria” by the media and in campaigns calling for justice.

A human rights activist, U Aung Myo Min, said under the Child Rights Law, both the victim and an underage offender should not be identified.

“Identifying them is breaking the law,” he said.

Article 96 of the Child Rights Law 2019 outlaws the identification or picturing of a minor involved in legal cases.

Violation can be punished with up to a year in prison and fines.

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