Widow, Friends of Murdered Journalist Urge For Progress in Case

By San Yamin Aung 4 April 2017

RANGOON— Friends and relatives of a murdered local reporter are voicing their frustration at a lack of progress in the nearly four-month old investigation.

The bruised body of Eleven Media Group’s (EMG) Ko Soe Moe Tun, 36, was found at about 1 a.m. on Dec. 13 on the Union Highway in Monywa Township, Sagaing Division. An autopsy revealed that he died of a skull fracture resulting from having been beaten.

“It’s already been four months and no one has been put on trial for the murder,” said the journalist’s widow, Ma Khin Cho Latt. “I’m afraid the case will end like this, without justice. I want to know who killed my husband and why did they did it.”

The personal belongings of Monywa-based Ko Soe Moe Tun, including money, a gold ring, and his national ID card, were not stolen.

He had been reporting on the controversial Chinese-backed Letpadaung copper mining project, illegal logging and farmland confiscation, although police have not found any definite motives behind the crime.

Authorities said they questioned about 30 people, many of whom were staff members from karaoke establishment Blue Sky KTV in Monywa, where Ko Soe Moe Tun went the night he was murdered. He was killed soon after he left.

Three suspects—two from Blue Sky KTV and a logging truck driver—questioned in connection with the murder were released from custody, with police saying they had insufficient evidence to prosecute.

“The police only focused on investigating the case in the first month,” said Monywa Gazette editor Ko Thet, who was a friend of Ko Soe Moe Tun. “But they have lost interest as time has passed.”

Amid the investigation, the police chief of Monywa Central Police Station was moved to Rangoon. His replacement, U Tin Yu, told The Irrawaddy there was no progress in the case but that they were still investigating.

At least four journalists have been killed in Burma since 1999, including Ko Aung Kyaw Naing, also known as Ko Par Gyi, who was shot in military custody in Mon State’s Kyaikmayaw Township, according to the Committee for the Protection of Journalists.

Though it is unclear if his death was related to his reporting on contentious issues, U Myint Kyaw of Myanmar Journalist Network said the murder could cause others to hesitate in reporting those matters.

“I don’t have much hope that justice will be done in [Ko Soe Moe Tun’s] case,” he said. “The same as other high-profile cases in which justice is yet to be done.”

He added the government must enforce the rule of law and bring justice to the cases in which the culprits are still at large.