By YE MON | FRONTIER
YANGON — Plaintiff U Moe Naing of the Anti-Corruption Commission gave a detailed account at the Yangon Region High Court on Friday of how former Yangon advocate general U Han Htoo and four other defendants had accepted bribes before dropping a case against the alleged murderers of popular comedian Aung Yell Htwe.
Moe Naing, who is an assistant director at the ACC, described how U Khin Maung Lay, the father of one of the three murder suspects, Ko Than Htut Aung, initially approached deputy district law officer Daw Thit Thit Khin, who arranged for payments to be made to herself and two of the other defendants in the judicial corruption case, before Khin Maung Lay escalated his efforts to have the case dismissed and attempted to meet directly with Han Htoo.
Moe Naing told the court on Friday that Khin Maung Lay had asked his friend U Maung Maung Latt, a construction magnate who is close to Han Htoo, to persuade the former advocate general to dismiss the case. He said that Maung Maung Latt approached Han Htoo’s wife and the pair met three times between June 25 and July 6.
At the third meeting, Maung Maung Latt allegedly gave Han Htoo’s wife K15 million along with a cake and a box of bird’s nest essence, on behalf of Khin Maung Lay. Moe Naing said Khin Maung Lay had sold his son’s Yangon apartment to raise the necessary funds.
Han Htoo is being charged under section 55 of the Anti-Corruption Law, which carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years, in the most high profile anti-corruption case to go to trial since the transition to multi-party democracy in 2011. The ACC filed the case on September 13 after completing a month-long investigation, after which Han Htoo was dismissed from his position as the regional advocate general.
The other four defendants face charges under Section 56 of the law, which carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years. All have now been dismissed from their government jobs.
Moe Naing told the court on Friday that Khin Maung Lay had already tried to meet Han Htoo in person with the assistance of Thit Thit Khin, but when they arrived together at the former advocate general’s office he refused to meet them. He said Khin Maung Lay left a shirt purchased from MK Fashion and a bottle of Blue Label Johnny Walker whisky intended for Han Htoo in the care of his assistant.
Moe Naing said that Thit Thit Khin, who is also facing trial, had previously asked Khin Maung Lay to pay her a bribe of K30 million, K30 million to Yangon Eastern District Court judge U Aung Kyi and a further K10 million to Yangon Eastern District law officer U Ko Ko Lay, to have the case withdrawn. He said that Khin Maung Lay and Thit Thit Khin gave Ko Ko Lay K10 million and a bottle of Gold Label Johnny Walker whisky at his office on July 18.
Ko Ko Lay had previously accepted K3 million directly from Khin Maung Lay, Moe Naing said, but he did not specify when. He said Aung Kyi accepted K30 million on July 23 at his home, having already accepted K3 million.
Thit Thit Khin eventually agreed to accept K10 million from Khin Maung Lay herself, Moe Naing said. He did not say whether she had taken the money. The ACC said in an earlier statement that Thit Thit Khin had taken K3 million from the murder suspect’s father.
K3 million was also allegedly paid to Police Lieutenant Chit Ko Ko from Thuwunna police station in Yangon’s Thingangyun Township, though the police officer is being tried in a separate case.
Moe Naing previously told the high court that Khin Maung Lay had also paid Aung Yell Htwe’s father K130 million and K10 million each to the murdered comedian’s uncle and brother, after which the family had requested that the murder case at the Yangon Eastern District Court be dropped.
On September 24, the Yangon Region High Court ordered that the alleged murderers of Aung Yell Htwe be re-tried at Yangon’s Eastern District Court. All those accused in the bribery case, as well as those being re-tried in the murder case, are being detained in Insein Prison in northern Yangon.
The next session in the pre-trial hearings will be held on December 7, at which Moe Naing is expected to continue his testimony. In total the court will hear 39 witnesses from the prosecution.