Monday, August 21, 2017

U Ko Ni’s assassination case in court on Friday

The high-profile killing of National League for Democracy (NLD) legal advisor U Ko Ni will be heard on March 24 at the Yangon Northern District Court.

Kyi Lin, the alleged gunman, being brought to the Yangon Northern District Court for registration last Friday. Aung Khant / The Myanmar TimesKyi Lin, the alleged gunman, being brought to the Yangon Northern District Court for registration last Friday. Aung Khant / The Myanmar Times

Kyi Lin, the alleged gunman, and suspects connected to the assassination -- Aung Win Zaw, Zayar Phyo and the recently arrested Aung Win Tun -- will face questioning by tribunal judges while observed by reporters.

The judges hearing the case are the Deputy Judge from the Northern District Court, the Associate Judge from the Eastern District Court and a judge from the Western District Court.

The four men involved in the murder were brought to court last Friday for registration.

They were charged with murder under Article 302 of the Penal Code, committing a crime as a group with a common intention (Article 34), and harbouring an offender (Article 212).

Kyi Lin, who shot U Ko Ni, and Aung Win Zaw were also charged under Articles 19(d) and 19(f) of the Arms Act for transporting and possessing arms.

Zayar Phyo was also charged with possession of restricted telecommunications equipment under Article 67 of the Telecommunications Law.

The arrest of Aung Win Tun was not revealed by the authorities at the time, but the man has been charged for harbouring the alleged offender, according to the lawyer of the complainant U Nay La.

“From what we know, Aung Win Tun’s alleged role in the assassination was arranging the transportation,” U Nay La said.

Meanwhile, another suspect Aung Win Khaing – a former military officer identified as the mastermind of the assassination – is still at large.

The Ministry of Home Affairs had said any new development into U Ko Ni’s murder would only be possible with Aung Win Khaing’s arrest.

“Since there is a missing suspect in this case, we will also investigate about that,” said one of the three judges hearing the case.

U Ko Ni, a prominent legal expert, was shot dead outside the Yangon Airport on January 29. His killer tried to flee but was caught by taxi drivers, although he fatally shot U Nay Win, one of the drivers.

The President’s Office in a statement the next day said U Ko Ni’s murder was aimed at destroying the peace and stability of the country.

In a press conference last month, Lieutenant General Kyaw Swe, Minister for Home Affairs, described the murder as “extreme nationalism”.

Many international and regional organisations, including the Human Rights Watch, the European Union and the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), have called for a transparent investigation into the murder.