Verdict in U Ko Ni Murder Case Due Feb. 15

By Htun Htun 1 February 2019

YANGON — The Yangon Northern District Court will deliver its final ruling in the murder trial of U Ko Ni, a prominent lawyer and legal adviser to the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD), on Feb. 15.

Prosecution and defense lawyers presented their closing argument on Friday, the 102nd hearing of a closely watched trial that has dragged on for some two years.

U Ko Ni was shot dead in broad daylight outside Yangon International Airport on Jan. 29, 2017.  Police apprehended the alleged gunman, Kyi Lin, moments later and afterwards arrested three of his alleged co-conspirators — Aung Win Zaw, Aung Win Tun, and Zeya Phyo, all ex-military officers.

The alleged mastermind of the murder, former Lt. Col. Aung Win Khaing, remains at large.

Kyi Lin was charged under Section 302 (1) (b) of the Penal Code for killing both U Ko Ni and taxi driver U Ne Win, who chased him after he shot the lawyer, and faces execution if convicted. He was also charged under Section 19 of the Arms Act for illegally importing and possessing a weapon.

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 Section 212 for harboring one of the other suspects. The court released him on a 50 million kyats ($37,300) bail in March.

Kyi Lin’s lawyer, U Kyaw Kyaw Htike, argued that the murder charge against his client should be changed to 302 (2), which excludes premeditation and carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. He said Kyi Lin should also be charged with homicide in the case of U Ne Win, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.

Defense lawyers argued that Aung Win Zaw, Aung Win Tun and Zeya Phyo had nothing to do with U Ko Ni’s murder and should be acquitted. The prosecution insisted they were guilty as charged.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.