Lawyers barred from questioning man who shot Ko Ni

Lawyers will not be able to cross-examine U Kyin Lin, the man who gunned down National League for Democracy legal advisor U Ko Ni in January last year, because Kyi Lin claimed his right not to be “examined as a witness” under Myanmar’s Code of Criminal Procedure.

He will instead face questions under an ad hoc tribunal of judges, from which lawyers will be barred. Lawyers on both sides of the case fear this will weaken the legal weight and the credibility of his responses. Unlike with witness testimony, the responses won’t be taken under oath.

The case has dragged on for more than a year and involved close to 80 witnesses. The man accused of masterminding the assassination, retired Lt-Col Aung Win Khaing, remains at large.

Yangon Northern District Court judge U Khin Maung Maung informed Kyi Lin of his right to choose whether to face questions, as “the accused” in the case, under sections 342 (a) and (b) in a hearing on 5 July. Kyi Lin chose to avoid cross-examination.

The tribunal will be chaired by judge Khin Maung Maung and will also include Yangon Eastern District judge U Myint Hand and Northern District deputy judge U Ohn Khaing.

“What Kyi Lin says can still be called evidence. But it will not be as strong as evidence given under oath,” prosecuting lawyer U Robert San Aung told Myanmar Now outside the courtroom. He wanted the opportunity to question him in court.

U Aung Khaing, the lawyer representing Kyi Lin, also expressed disappointment, saying Kyi Lin’s official testimony would be valuable for his case.

“When the whole case is evaluated, his testimony [under the tribunal] will not be very important,” he told Myanmar Now outside the courtroom.

 “Since there will be no cross-examination, his responses will be less accepted by the court,” said U Nay La, another prosecuting lawyer.

Northern District deputy judge U Ye Lwin said that, under Code section 342 (2.ii), the tribunal has discretion over whether Kyi Lin’s responses will be factored into the judge’s final verdict in the case.

The 5 July session was the 59th to take place so far. Kyi Lin and others accused of participating in Ko Ni’s murder were to face questions the following week.

Lawyer U Ko Ni is credited with devising the State Counsellor position for Aung San Suu Kyi, who was barred from the presidency by the constitution. He was also one of Myanmar’s most prominent Muslim public figures.

Ko Ni was shot in broad daylight at Yangon International Airport after returning from an overseas trip on 29 January 2017.

Kyi Lin, the shooter, then opened fire on the group of people pursuing him, killing taxi driver U Nay Win, before being arrested by police.

Police later arrested former army officers U Aung Win Zaw and U Zayar Phyo on suspicion of ordering Kyi Lin to assassinate Ko Ni. Aung Win Zaw’s brother U Aung Win Htun was also arrested for helping Aung Win Zaw escape arrest. Unlike the others, was released on bail.

The whereabouts of suspected mastermind Aung Win Khaing remains unknown.

Related Articles

Back to top button