Yangon – Myanmar’s police have rearrested three suspects facing charges for the death of a Yangon-based comedian in January 2018.
“As bail is not granted for murder charges, bail was withdrawn and they were rearrested. We will counter the charge,” said U Chit Ko Ko, a lawyer for one of the defendants, Kyaw Zaw Han.
Aung Yell Htwe was beaten to death by a group of men at a New Year’s Eve party on Dec. 31, 2017, and died two days later. He underwent surgery at Yangon General Hospital but died from the injuries.
A forensic pathologist from the hospital testified that the comedian died from severe head trauma, including skull fracturing and hemorrhaging of the membrane surrounding the brain, resulting from blows with a hard, blunt object.
After one year of court hearings, the Yangon Eastern District Court charged Than Htut Aung and Pyae Phyo Aung under Article 302(2) of the Penal Code for allegedly fatally beating Aung Yell Htwe, and Kyaw Zaw Han for aiding and abetting the crime.
The defendants then submitted an appeal to the regional high court, which overruled the verdict after 10 months of hearings and granted bail at 10 million kyats (US$7,400) each.
The Yangon Region High Court also changed the charges against the three suspects from murder to “voluntarily causing grievous hurt”.
The court ruled that Than Htut Aung and Pyae Phyo Aung would be charged under Article 325 of the Penal Code for causing grievous harm. Kyaw Zaw Han was still charged with aiding and abetting the crime.
The Union Attorney-General’s Office was unhappy with the High Court’s decision and filed a complaint with the Union Supreme Court. The Supreme Court overruled the High Court’s decision and reconfirmed the Eastern District Court’s charges against the three suspects.
“My son has to face a trial under Article 302 again. The bail has been withdrawn. They were taken back to Insein Prison today. We will face the trial,” U Khin Maung Lay, father of Than Htut Aung, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday.
The hearings will resume on August 25 at the Eastern District Court.
The court previously dropped the case after questioning only 14 witnesses and before hearing from either the pathologist or police investigators or reviewing CCTV records. Yangon’s attorney general at the time, U Han Htoo, who approved the dismissal, said there was no solid evidence against the suspects.
President U Win Myint ordered the case to be reinvestigated following a public outcry. The Eastern District Court then resumed the trial in Oct. 2018. U Han Htoo was dismissed from his position and is on trial with five other court officials for allegedly taking bribes from a relative of one of the three suspects to drop the case.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko
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