YANGON — A police colonel and key witness in the murder trial of prominent lawyer U Ko Ni failed to appear at a court hearing on Thursday.
U Ko Ni, who was a legal adviser to the ruling National League for Democracy, was gunned down outside Yangon International Airport in January 2017.
Police arrested the alleged assassin, Kyi Lin, and three accused co-conspirators — Aung Win Zaw, Aung Win Tun, and Zeya Phyo. The man accused of masterminding the murder, former Lieutenant Colonel Aung Win Khaing, remains at large.
Aung Win Zaw and Aung Win Khaing, who were at the Yangon International Airport at the time of the assassination, said they were there to visit Police Colonel Win Min Thein, who was posted to the airport for security.
According to the Yangon North District Court, Col. Win Min Thein said he could not attend Thursday’s hearing because he was assigned to supervise a police sports event.
“He has failed to appear in court for about three hearings. He will have to testify about whether Aung Win Khaing and Aung Win Zaw really visited him on the day of the assassination,” said prosecutor U Min Min Zaw.
“He will come. He is a civil servant. He might be very busy, so he couldn’t come again,” Aung Win Zaw said after the hearing.
Zeya Phyo, a former military officer, told reporters again that he had nothing to do with the murder of U Ko Ni.
U Wai Min, who went through military intelligence training with Zeya Phyo and later worked at his company, also appeared in court on Thursday. He said that U Kyaw Lin Than and U Than Win were not employees of his company, as was claimed at the last hearing.
The court has still to hear from 22 witnesses.
Kyi Lin was charged under Section 302 of the Penal Code for killing both U Ko Ni and taxi driver U Ne Win, who chased Kyi Lin after he had shot the lawyer. He was also charged under sections 19 (d) and 19 (f) of the Arms Act for illegally importing and possession weapons.
Aung Win Zaw was charged with conspiracy to commit murder and Zeya Phyo with aiding and abetting an offender, both under Section 302 (1) (b) of the Penal Code.
Aung Win Tun was charged under the Penal Code’s Article 212 for harboring one of the other accused. The court released him on a 50 million kyats (about $37,300) bail in March.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.