Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Calls for Swift Justice for Slain Lawyer U Ko Ni

By Htun Htun 30 January 2019

YANGON —State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi urged authorities to find justice as soon as possible for prominent constitutional lawyer U Ko Ni and taxi driver Ko Ne Win, two years after they were gunned down in Yangon.

U Ko Ni, a legal adviser to the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD), was gunned down at pointblank range outside Yangon International Airport on Jan. 29, 2017. Ko Ne Win, a taxi driver at the scene, was killed by the same gunman while chasing after him.

The 63-year old lawyer was an expert on the military-drafted Constitution and came up with the idea of creating the position of state counselor to get around a clause in the charter effectively banning Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from the presidency. He advocated for changes to the Constitution that would strip the military of its undemocratic privileges; many believe those efforts led to his death.

In her message at a commemoration ceremony for the lawyer and driver in Yangon on Tuesday, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi praised them as ‘”role models who sacrificed their lives for truth and justice” and called their deaths “a big loss for Myanmar.”

“I would like to urge the concerned authorities to find speedy justice for Saya U Ko Ni and Ko Ne Win, who both sacrificed their lives to help fight the challenges to promoting the rule of law and justice in Myanmar,” she said.

To date, 72 prosecution witnesses and 40 defense witnesses have appeared in court over the course of 101 hearings in the trail of U Ko Ni’s accused assassins — gunman Kyi Lin and alleged conspirators Zeya Phyo, Aung Win Zaw and Aung Will Tun. A verdict is expected after the defense makes its closing argument on Friday, prosecution lawyer U Nay La told The Irrawaddy.

People attend a commemoration ceremony for U Ko Ni and Ko Ne Win in Yangon on Tuesday. / Aung Kyaw Htet / The Irrawaddy

However, the suspected mastermind of the assassination, Aung Win Khaing, remains at large.

During Tuesday’s commemoration, U Ko Ni’s daughter, Daw Yin New Khaing, said two years was more than enough time for a trial.

“I pray with anxiety that the judicial sector, which he valued and respected, can provide him with the truth. I want to get the most honest answer from the judicial sector,” she said.

NLD spokesman Monywa Aung Shin called the murder of U Ko Ni a political assassination targeting the ruling party.

“We have lost a person who was resisting those hampering the NLD’s efforts to amend the 2008 Constitution,” he said.

Coincidently, the NLD submitted an urgent proposal to form a constitutional amendment committee to the Union Parliament on Tuesday. Despite strong objection from military lawmakers, a debate on forming the committee was approved for early next month.