By YE MON | FRONTIER
YANGON — The chief legal officer in Yangon Region and a district judge are among six officials arrested under bribery charges filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission over a decision to drop a murder case against three suspects accused of the fatal beating of Facebook celebrity Ko Aung Yell Htwe on New Year’s Eve last year, police have said.
Yangon advocate general U Han Htoo, judge U Aung Kyi from Yangon Eastern District Court and four others were arrested after the ACC filed charges at Thuwanna police station, Police Major Ko Ko Oo from Thingyanyun Township told Frontier on Thursday.
He named the other suspects as Yangon Eastern District law officer U Ko Ko Lay and deputy law officer Daw Thit Thit Khin, Police Lieutenant Chit Ko Ko from Thuwunna police station and Yangon Region law officer U Thein Zaw.
ACC member U Kyaw Soe told Frontier that the charges were filed after a month-long investigation found that U Khin Maung Lay, father of one of the murder suspects, Ko Than Htut Aung, had paid bribes totalling K72 million to have the case against his son withdrawn.
Kyaw Soe alleged that Han Htoo had accepted K15 million and a bottle of Blue Label Johnny Walker whisky, U Aung Kyi had accepted K33 million, and Ko Ko Lay had accepted K13 million and a bottle of Gold Label Johnny Walker whisky.
Kyaw Soe further alleged that Chit Ko Ko and Thit Thit Khin had each accepted K3 million and Thein Zaw had accepted K5 million.
Kyaw Soe said charges had not been filed against the father of Than Htut Aung because he would be a prosecution witness in the case.
Han Htoo was charged under section 55 of the Anti-Corruption Law, for which the maximum penalty is 15 years. The other suspects were charged under section 56 of the Anti-Corruption Law, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment.
The Anti-Corruption Law was strengthened in June to allow the ACC to initiate investigations against officials suspected to be corrupt, including on the basis of news reports. Previously, it was a passive body that waited for complaints to be submitted with “strong evidence” by petitioners who risked counter-suits for defamation.
Yangon Eastern District Court withdrew the murder charges on July 25 and the three suspects were released.
The decision caused a public outcry, with a social media campaign titled “Failed Law”, and prompted President U Win Myint, who has taken a hard line against corruption, to order the ACC and Union Attorney General U Maw Than in July to investigate.
The Yangon Region High Court is expected to rule soon whether to re-open the murder case. It has been reported that the parents of Aung Yell Htwe do not wish to proceed with the murder case.