March 24, 2017
Rangoon’s Northern District Court commenced examination of the assassination of prominent lawyer U Ko Ni as the trial began on Friday.
Among multiple offenses the alleged suspects were charged with, the trial opened with illegal arms possession and transportation charges against the gunman and one of the alleged co-perpetrators.
According to the police report, two of the suspects; gunman Kyi Lin and an alleged co-conspirator Aung Win Zaw, are being charged under Article 19(d) and (f) of the country’s 1878 Arms Act, in addition to Article 302 of the Penal Code for homicide.
Defense attorney U Aung Khaing, who represented Aung Win Zaw in court, examined the Mingalardon Township police official Mya Tun Kyaw who submitted the case, regarding the arms offense with which his client is charged.
U Aung Khaing told The Irrawaddy that there was no police report showing that the guns and bullets seized from the shooter Kyi Lin were associated with his client Aung Win Zaw.
Without such a police statement, Aung Win Zaw could not be indicted on charges of illegal arms possession or transportation, according to his attorney.
March 20, 2017
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, 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.
March 14, 2017
A close associate of murdered Myanmar lawyer Ko Ni says the constitutional expert was working on a plan to weaken the military’s political power when he was gunned down at Yangon’s airport soon after his return from a conference in Indonesia on January 29.
The revelation is likely to feed persistent suspicions – which have been denied – that the military had a role in the assassination.
Military still holds power
Despite handing over power to a civilian government led by the National League for Democracy (NLD) party of activist Aung San Suu Kyi, the Myanmar armed forces retain wide powers under a constitution it promulgated in 2008.
That constitution guarantees the military 25 percent of the seats in parliament and gives it a veto over any constitutional amendment. It also controls the Ministry of Home Affairs, giving it authority over much of the nation’s permanent bureaucracy.
Murdered lawyer Ko Ni may have found a loophole around the military.
March 7, 2017
Whenever I met with Ko Ni, whether seated in his office, with its flickering electricity and precarious piles of law books, or sipping tea in the moldering headquarters of Myanmar’s then-opposition political party, the image that came to mind was that of Atticus Finch—though an Atticus wearing a Burmese sarong. With his salt-and-pepper hair and upright bearing, Ko Ni was the consummate honorable lawyer. He persevered for decades as one of Myanmar’s top constitutional experts despite living under the rule of a military junta with little respect for judicial process. Every day, he woke up and prepared to throw himself, pro bono, into hopeless cases. One day in his office, I saw a stack of papers at the foot of his desk. On top was a copy of the Bulgarian Constitution. You never know, he said, when knowledge of such a document might prove useful.
On January 29th, Ko Ni, sixty-three years old, was assassinated at the airport in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city. He had just returned from a democracy conference in Indonesia and was waiting for a taxi curbside, while holding his young grandson, when a gunman in sandals sauntered up and pumped a bullet into Ko Ni’s head at close range. Nay Win, a taxi driver who tried to chase down the assassin, was also shot to death. (Ko Ni’s grandson, who had come with relatives to greet his grandfather, tumbled out of the lawyer’s arms but was unhurt.)
February 21, 2017
The communal tension in our neighbour Myanmar between its majority Buddhist population and its Muslim minority of Rohingyas has of late worsened. It was exacerbated by the recent assassination of a prominent Muslim lawyer and an advisor to the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD), Mr Ko Ni, while he was waiting for a taxi in broad daylight outside the busy Yangon international airport, on his return from Indonesia. He was returning from Indonesia where he had gone in a delegation to study democracy and conflict resolution and was shot in the head as he was holding in his arms his three-year-old grandson.
He was a prominent defender of religious minorities in a country seething with anti-Muslim sentiment. The climate in Myanmar had worsened since attacks on Burmese border guards last October that had been blamed on the Rohingyas, a persecuted Muslim minority. Since then the Burmese Army had taken a scorched earth approach in northern Rakhine state, home of the Rohingyas. Human rights groups and international monitors have accused the Army of burning villages and raping and murdering many of its residents.
Mr Ko Ni, who was not himself a Rohingya, had been speaking against the law that long ago stripped Rohingyas of citizenship. That made people close to the government see Rohingyas as interlopers from Bangladesh, with no rights to stay in Mynmar.
Mr Ko Ni had received threats from Buddhist extremists. One Muslim activist who preferred to remain anonymous said: “People who speak against the nationalists, those who speak the truth about the situation in Rakhine state, are not secure.”
Mr Ko Ni’s killer targeted him because of his religion and being a prominent advocate of tolerance.
Tens of thousands of people gathered in the Myanmar city of Yangon on Monday for the funeral of Ko Ni, a Muslim lawyer shot dead the previous day who was involved in efforts to amend a military drafted constitution.
The 63-year-old was an expert in constitutional law and adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi’s ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party, that came to power in April. He was also a prominent member of Myanmar‘s Muslim minority.
His killing, amid heightened communal and religious tension in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, appears to be a rare act of political violence in the former capital that coincided with a tough security operation in a northwestern region populated mostly by Muslims.
Police have arrested a 53-year-old man, suspected to be the lone gunman who shot Ko Ni in the head while the lawyer held his grandson outside Yangon’s international airport on Sunday evening.
He had just returned from a trip to Indonesia, where Myanmar government officials and Muslim community leaders discussed with Indonesian counterparts issues of reconciliation.
Taxi driver Nay Win, 42, was also killed when he attempted to apprehend the gunman, state media reported.
Police colonel Myo Thu Soe told Reuters the suspect, Kyi Linn, was from central Myanmar‘s Yinmabin township who has served two stints in jail for trafficking religious antiques.