Two Years After U Ko Ni Assassination, Key Witnesses Yet to Testify

By Htun Htun 11 January 2019

YANGON—A number of key witnesses surrounding the assassination of National League for Democracy’s legal advisor U Ko Ni are yet to testify in court despite the 100th hearing having taken place on Friday.

The 63-year-old lawyer was gunned down at Yangon International Airport two years ago this month. So far, four suspects—Kyi Lin, Aung Win Zaw, Aung Win Tun and Zeya Phyohave been arrested and brought to trial though Aung Win Khaing, believed to be the mastermind behind the conspiracy, remains at large. He was last seen in Naypyitaw in February 2017.

Since the beginning of the trial in March 2017, almost all witnesses for the plaintiff have testified in court. Despite witnesses for the defendant beginning their testimonies in July 2018, some key witnesses are yet to testify—including the police colonel who was chief of airport security at the time U Ko Ni was gunned down. Another is the wife of the accused Zeya Phyo.

Police Col. Win Min Thein, deputy chief of the Yangon Police Force, has yet to appear in court despite being summoned three times, each time giving the excuse that he is too busy to attend court. One of the accused, Aung Win Zaw, revealed in his testimony last year that he and his brother, Aung Win Khaing, had met with the police colonel for “some business” shortly before the lawyer’s assassination on Jan. 29, 2017.

In Friday’s hearing, another three witnesses submitted by Zeya Phyo didn’t appear in court, causing the judge to remove their names from the witness list. If the remaining major witnesses, including Win Min Thein, fail to show up for hearings in the coming weeks, they are also likely to be dropped from the list.

If there are no more witnesses to testify, counter-claims from both sides will be heard before a verdict is reached.

One of the plaintiff lawyers U Nay La told the media that he expected the case will be concluded within the next month.

As for Aung Win Khaing, the suspect still at large, plaintiff lawyer U Khin Maung Htay said that if the suspect is arrested later he would testify separately.