Ex-Minister’s Son Prosecuted on Drug, Weapons and Other Charges

By Moe Moe 5 February 2019

NAYPYITAW—The Dekkhinathiri District Court in Naypyitaw on Monday prosecuted the son of a former sports minister on 14 counts of illegal possession of firearms and illicit drugs, defense lawyer U Myint Aung told The Irrawaddy.

Police detained U Phyo Ko Ko Tint San, the owner of ACE Co. and the son of the sports minister during U Thein Sein’s administration, along with two of his employees at Naypyitaw Airport in October 2017 after discovering 12 yaba tablets, 1.5 grams of methamphetamine, two pistols and 72 bullets in U Phyo Ko Ko Tint San’s backpack.

Further investigation led to the seizure of about 30 firearms and more bullets and drugs from the ACE Hotel, property belonging to U Phyo Ko Ko Tint San’s company, and his houses in Naypyitaw and Yangon.

Though the seizures were made in two places, Myanmar’s Supreme Court ruled that all of the detained suspects should face trial at Dekkhinathiri District Court in the capital.

Twelve other suspects detained in Yangon and Naypyitaw were also prosecuted on Monday along with U Phyo Ko Ko Tint San, lawyer U Myint Aung said.

Along with the drugs and weapons offenses, U Phyo Ko Ko Tint San was charged under Article 67 of the Telecommunications Law for keeping walkie-talkies, Article 8 of the Export/Import Law for keeping drones, and Article 61(a) of the State Secrets Act for the unauthorized use of the National Security Council (NSC) logo on cars and possession of bullet-proof vests and camouflage jackets with SWAT badges similar to those worn by the president’s bodyguards.

The trial at Dekkhinathiri District Court began in January last year, and over 400 prosecution witnesses were presented to the court. The court prosecuted the suspects despite having heard testimony from only 200 prosecution witnesses so far.

The judge has the authority to prosecute if he believes that the testimony of the initial witnesses is sufficient to proceed, lawyer U Khin Maung Zaw of Pyinmana Township told The Irrawaddy.

“This will accelerate the trial process which otherwise would take time. As the court has tried them, it is OK not to cross-examine the remaining witnesses,” he said.

U Phyo Ko Ko Tint San reportedly told police during interrogation that he had been planning to establish a security company, though existing laws do not allow private companies to provide armed security services.

The next trial session is scheduled for Feb. 11.