Shan Drug Suspect Handed to China

By Lawi Weng 29 August 2012

A Shan drug suspect, who was lieutenant of an armed gang allegedly responsible for the murder of 13 Chinese sailors on the Mekong River last year, has been handed over to the Chinese authorities.

Local authorities in Kengtung Township, eastern Shan State, transferred Sai Aung Myat at 4 am on Tuesday. He surrendered to the Burmese government along with fellow gang members in May after his leader, infamous drugs kingpin Sai Naw Kham, was captured by the Laotian authorities and handed to China.

Burma’s state-run media reported on Wednesday that Sai Aung Myat has been handed over to the Chinese authorities for just a short time to help with their investigation of the Oct. 5 Mekong murders.

The statement said that Sai Aung Myat will only have to stay in China for the duration of his interrogation and will then once again be returned to Burma according to a bilateral agreement between the two neighbors.

Aung Kyaw Zwa, a Burmese businessman at the border with China, said that the Burmese government handed over Sai Aung Myat in order to win favor with Beijing.

“Indeed, the Burmese authorities should not hand him to China because he surrendered to them instead,” said Aung Kyaw Zwa.

The Chinese authorities have visited Tachilek Township to question Sai Aung Myat about the case several times already. However, he has denied any responsibility for the killings, according to Shan sources.

China had to ask the Burmese government to hand over Sai Aung Myat many times before they eventually agreed, according to Khunsai Jaiyen, the editor of the Thailand-based Shan Herald Agency for News.

However, after a delegation from the Burmese government went to China last week, the Burmese authorities changed their stand, he said.

“We do not know what agreement they arranged to hand over Sai Aung Myat because they refused to hand him to China before,” said Khunsai Jaiyen.

Before Sai Naw Kham was charged with the Mekong murders, the Chinese authorities initially accused nine Thai soldiers of being involved. However, they denied the charge.

Aung Myat and his armed cohorts surrendered with their weapons to the Burmese authorities in Tachilek District on May 15.