Yangon Attorney-General and five others arrested for taking bribery in Facebook star murder case

Writer: 
EMG reporter
Myanmar’s Anti-Corruption Commission filed a lawsuit against the Yangon Attorney-General and five other officials—a judge, three law officers and a police for taking bribery worth of more than K70 million from the culprits’ parents to drop the case against three suspects in the Facebook  comedian Aung Yell Htwe.
 
The families of the culprits submitted an application to Yangon East District Court to terminate the charges and the court agreed on it and then all the suspects were released on July 26.
 
The release of those involved in the fatal beating of Facebook comedian Aung Yell Htwe spread on social networks, causing pubic outcry at the decision of the attorney-general and law officers. 
 
Concerning the murder case of Aung Yell Htwe, President Win Myint gave remarks in his meeting with the governmental officials of Yangon and Bago Yangons that the withdrawal of Aung Yell Htwe murder case is totally unacceptable. I have never seen and heard of such situation. 
 
On July 31, the Union Chief Justice, the Union Attorney-General and the Chairman of Anti-Corruption Commission were called by President Win Myint at the Presidential Palace in Nay Pyi Taw. At the meeting, the president instructed them to investigate into subsequent situations behind the scene of the drop of charge and other related matters in accordance with the law.
 
The Anti-Corruption Commission regarded this case as a notorious one soon after the instructions of the president and investigations were conducted. The investigation team was also formed.
 
A government spokesperson said on July 30 that the Union Attorney General’s Office would submit an application to continue the pre-trial hearing and examine eight remaining witnesses, the Frontier Myanmar reported. 
 
The Anti-Corruption Commission announced on its Facebook page that it would investigate the case. “Speculation that there might be corruption concerning this case is spreading on social media,” it said in a statement.
 
“Since there are reasons to be suspicious of corruption in this case, the commission unanimously decided to take it as reported information, at a meeting held on August 2, under Section 17(h) [of the Anti-Corruption Law]. The commission believes there may be reliable evidence in this case.” the Frontier Myanmar reported.  
 
Than Htut Aung (a) Thar Gyi, Pyae Phyo Aung (a) Aung Lay and Kyaw Zaw Han (a) Kyaw Zaw were involved in the fatal beating of Aung Yell Htwe and they were charged under murder under Section 302 of the Penal Code but the court released them after receiving the application of the plaintiff witness to drop the charges. No further comment could be provided as the investigation is going on.
 
In an statement of the Anti-Corruption Commission, it had found that Yangon Region Attorney-General Han Htoo; Judge Aung Kyi from the Yangon Eastern District Court; Yangon Region law officer Thein Zaw; Yangon Eastern District law officer Ko Ko Lay; Yangon Eastern District deputy law officer Thit Thit Khin; and Police Lieutenant Chit Ko Ko took bribes from Khin Maung Lay, father of suspect Than Htut Aung (a) Thar Gyi in exchange for their roles in dropping the case, the Irrawaddy reported. 
 
Anti-Corruption Commission spokesperson Kyaw Soe told that the accused received a total of K72 million in cash, along with gifts including bottles of Blue and Gold Label Scotch Whisky, as bribes. Judge Aung Kyi received the largest sum—K33 million while the attorney-general received K15 million. 
 
The Anti-Corruption Commission said that Yangon Region Attorney-General Han Htoo approved a request from the suspects’ family to drop the case without making a comprehensive assessment in exchange for a bribe from Khin Maung Lay. The commission filed a lawsuit against Han Htoo under Section 55 of the Anti-Corruption Law at Thuwunna Police Station in Yangon. 
 
Article 55 states that any political post holder convicted of committing bribery shall be imprisoned for not more than 15 years and fined.
Judge Aung Kyi of the Yangon Eastern District Court released the three murder suspects in exchange for bribe from the same person, the commission said in its announcement.
 
Police prosecutor Lieutenant Chit Ko Ko also took a bribe from Than Htut Aung’s father and then failed to fully investigate the case according to police procedure, thereby abusing his power, it said. 
 
According to the commission, law officers Thein Zaw, Ko Ko Lay and Thit Thit Khin allegedly intentionally built the murder case in such a way that it would be adjudged as lacking sufficient grounds to warrant further investigation.  
 
The commission opened cases against all five under Section 56 of the Anti-Corruption Law. Section 56 states that, “Other than the Political Post Holder, if any other Authorized Person is convicted for committing bribery; he/she shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of not more than 10 years and with a fine.”
 
The commission said it would present Khin Maung Lay as a plaintiff witness. In exchange for his testimony, the commission will not file a case against him, it said. 
 
One of Myanmar’s Facebook celebrities, Aung Yell Htwe, died from injuries sustained at a party held on New Year’s Eve in 2017. Aung Yell Htwe went to The One Entertainment at Thuwana, Thingangyun Township with his girlfriend and was attacked by a group of men. They beat his head and he had been sent to the hospital. He died from injuries at the hospital on January 2. 
 
Edited by Win Htut