Yangon High Court Summons 3 Suspects in Comedian’s Beating Death

By San Yamin Aung 1 August 2018

YANGON — The Yangon Region High Court on Tuesday summoned three suspects who had been controversially freed after being detained in the killing of Facebook comedian Aung Yell Htwe.

The three suspects in the fatal beating of Aung Yell Htwe — Than Htut Aung (a.k.a Thar Gyi), Pyae Phyo Aung (a.k.a Aung Lay) and Kyaw Zaw Han (a.k.a Kyaw Zaw) — were released on July 25 after the Yangon Eastern District Court accepted an appeal from the victim’s family asking to settle the case.

Daw Nwe Nwe Oo, media and communications officer and deputy director of the High Court, told The Irrawaddy that the court sent summonses dated July 31 to the three suspects through the courts in the townships where they reside.

The Yangon Region attorney general addressed the high court on Monday seeking a review of the court’s decision to drop the case.

Daw Nwe Nwe Oo said the court will decide whether to annul the lower court’s decision to drop the case after both the Yangon Region attorney general and the defendants present their arguments at the next high court hearing.

The hearing date will be announced three weeks in advance, she added. If the judge annuls the Eastern District Court’s decision, the trial will continue and the remaining witnesses will testify.

The release of the murder suspects without any charges being filed attracted heavy condemnation from the public as well as from lawyers, lawmakers and activists.

Amid the public outcry, President U Win Myint ordered an investigation into the reasons for the dropping of the case and told officials to see that justice was served in accordance with the law.

The Union Attorney General’s Office on Monday ordered the Yangon Region attorney general to annul the court’s decision to drop the case and to continue the trial.

Earlier, Yangon Region Attorney General U Han Htoo had approved the request from the victim’s family to drop the case, citing a lack of evidence implicating the accused.

Aung Yell Htwe, who became popular for a series of short comedy videos he posted to his Facebook account starting in 2016, died after being kicked and beaten by a group of men while attending a party last New Year’s Eve at The One Entertainment Park in Yangon.

The three suspects surrendered to police in the presence of their parents soon after the incident.