YANGON — The Yangon Region High Court will hear lawyers’ requests on May 25 to change the charges against the accused in connection with the assassination last year of U Ko Ni, a constitutional lawyer and legal adviser to the ruling National League for Democracy party.
“Defense and prosecution lawyers will make their arguments in court that day. The court will then make a decision whether or not to change the original charges filed by the Yangon North District Court,” prosecution lawyer U Khin Maung Htay told reporters.
The defendants have requested that the charges be reduced, while the prosecution is seeking to stiffen them. As such, the High Court, the highest court in Yangon, will hear the issue on May 25 although it may not make a final decision on that day.
The alleged assassin, Kyi Lin, and three accused co-conspirators, Aung Win Zaw, Aung Win Tun, and Zeya Phyo, appeared at the Yangon North District Court on Thursday, but as the Yangon Region Supreme Court has not made a decision on their charges, the North District Court fixed the next trial date for May 17. Although the High Court will not have ruled on the charges by then, court procedure dictates the defendants must appear at the North District Court regardless.
Kyi Lin was charged under Section 302 (2) of the Penal Code with killing U Ko Ni and fatally shooting taxi driver U Ne Win. Aung Win Zaw and Zeya Phyo were also indicted for premeditated murder, which carries a life sentence.
Kyi Lin and Aung Win Zaw were further charged under Sections 19 (d) and 19 (f) of the 1878 Arms Act for importing/exporting and possessing firearms.
Aung Win Tun was charged under the Penal Code’s Article 212 for harboring one of the offenders, but in March the court granted him bail after he deposited 50 million kyats (about US$37,300) as a surety for his release from custody.
The man accused of masterminding the murder, former Lt-Col. Aung Win Khaing, remains at large.