Remand for AA Chief's Relatives Extended as Myanmar Police Seek Counterterrorism Charges

By Htun Htun 1 November 2019

Yangon – Two family members of the rebel Arakan Army (AA) chief were remanded in custody for the second time as police are trying to charge the two under the Counterterrorism Law.

On Oct. 19, police arrested U Kyaw Naing, the brother-in-law of AA chief Tun Myat Naing, at Yangon International Airport on his return from Thailand. His wife and the AA chief’s sister Ma Ya Min Myat was also arrested as she came to the airport to pick up her husband.

The police have opened a case against the couple under Section 52 of the Counterterrorism Law for allegedly financing terrorism. If convicted, the pair face three to seven years in prison. The two were remanded in custody on Oct. 21 at Mayangone Township Court until Friday.

“As the investigation is not yet complete, the police have asked to hold them on remand for longer. The police said they have not yet received legal advice from the Yangon Region Advocate General’s Office and approval from the Central Committee for Counterterrorism [to charge the couple under the Counterterrorism Law],” said the judge, U Moe Swe.

“The two will be held on remand until Nov. 15,” he said. According to the police, U Kyaw Naing reportedly went to Laos from Thailand on Sept. 28 with Ko Maung Maung Soe, a suspect in September’s seizure of explosive materials in Mandalay. The two lodged together in Laos, and U Kyaw Naing went back to Thailand on Sept. 30. U Kyaw Naing bore travel expenses and also gave 2,000 Thai baht (100,000 kyats) to Ko Maung Maung Soe, the police said.

At a press conference on Oct. 25, government spokesman U Zaw Htay said U Kyaw Naing and his wife were connected with the seizure of explosive materials in Mandalay in September.

U Zaw Htay said U Kyaw Naing was deported by the Thai government back to Myanmar. “According to the Thai police, the husband drove a taxi and the wife did sewing [to make a living in Thailand]. Myanmar’s police also have plans to go to Thailand to collect evidence with the Thai police and proceed with the lawsuit,” said U Zaw Htay.

Police arrested four alleged members of the AA with 28 packs of gunpowder, 1,000 detonators and accessories, 40 satellite phones, 30 pairs of binoculars and 25 GPS devices at a house in Chanmyathazi Township on Sept. 10.

The police later arrested two more suspects in connection with the seizure and said three others, including Ko Maung Maung Soe, were on the run.

The six detainees are currently being tried at Mandalay District Court. Police accuse one of them of being a warrant officer class 2 in the AA and two others of being lance corporals.