Three Suspects Charged With Murder in Comedian’s Death

By Zue Zue 7 January 2019

YANGON—The Yangon Eastern District Court on Monday officially charged three suspects with the murder of Aung Yell Htwe, a year after the Facebook comedian was beaten to death.

The prosecution and defense made their final arguments on Dec. 24.

Than Htut Aung and Pyae Phyo Aung were charged under Section 302 (2) of the Penal Code for allegedly fatally beating Aung Yell Htwe. Kyaw Zaw Han was charged under Section 302 (2)/114 for allegedly aiding and abetting the crime.

If found guilty, the accused face maximum sentences of 10 years in prison with hard labor, plus a fine under Section 302 (2) of Penal Code.

The next trial session is scheduled for Jan. 15, when witnesses will testify.

A forensic pathologist from Yangon General Hospital testified in the murder trial last month that Aung Yell Htwe died from severe head trauma including skull fracturing and hemorrhaging of the membranes surrounding the brain resulting from blows with a hard, blunt object.

Aung Yell Htwe, a popular comedian on Facebook, was severely beaten by a group of men at a New Year’s Eve party on Dec. 31, 2017. He underwent surgery at Yangon General Hospital for his injuries but died hours later.

The Eastern District Court had previously dropped the case after questioning only 14 witnesses and before hearing from either the pathologist or police investigators, or reviewing CCTV records. Yangon’s attorney general at the time, U Han Htoo, who approved the dismissal, said there was no solid evidence against the suspects.

President U Win Myint ordered the case re-investigated following a public outcry. Yangon’s Eastern District Court then resumed the trial in October last year. U Han Htoo was dismissed from his position and is on trial with five other court officials for allegedly taking bribes from a relative of one of the three suspects to drop the case.