USDP Lawmaker Denies Involvement in U Ko Ni Case

By The Irrawaddy 27 February 2017

NAYPYIDAW — A lawmaker and former personal security officer of Burma’s Military Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing denied accusations on Monday of withholding information on the assassination of National League for Democracy (NLD) party’s legal adviser U Ko Ni.

U Lin Zaw Tun—who retired from the army as a colonel in 2015 to compete in the election under the Union Solidarity Development Party (USDP) and is the current USDP lawmaker for Monghpyak Township in eastern Shan State—was mentioned as a friend of two of the suspects arrested in connection with the lawyer’s assassination.

Both suspects—Zeya Phyo and Aung Win Khaing—also had military backgrounds as a captain and lieutenant colonel, respectively.

The three men’s friendship was officially revealed at a press conference by Ministry of Home Affairs on Saturday. They reportedly spent their free time together at teashops, talking about the country’s politics and economy, and of course about U Ko Ni’s active role in Constitutional amendment.

Since then, the ex-security officer has been accused of withholding information on the killing as the public conjectured he might be aware of the assassination plan—particularly on social media.

“They didn’t discuss it in my presence, nor tell me about it,” U Lin Zaw Tun said to media at the Parliament on Monday while admitting his friendship with the two suspects.

The former army colonel added that he had been interrogated twice by officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs since the killing took place at Yangon International Airport on Jan 29.

“I told them all that I knew,” U Lin Zaw Tun said. “After that, [the authorities] came to the conclusion that I had nothing to do with it. So, I don’t want to make any further comments.”

Asked what he thought of his two friends, the USDP lawmaker replied that they were “good guys, normally.”

“But when it comes to situation like this, it’s difficult to say what kind of people they are,” he added.

The home affairs ministry held a press conference on Saturday—a day before the memorial for U Ko Ni and taxi driver U Nay Win—in which the minister and the police chief described alleged assassins and conspirators as “young men” with “extreme nationalism” that bore a grudge against U Ko Ni.

The ministry also revealed that hunt for the third and still at large suspect Aung Win Khaing ended in capital city Naypyidaw—the place with the strictest security in the country.