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Myanmar's democratic transition

Myanmar police blame grudge, not army, for murder of prominent lawyer Ko Ni

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 February, 2017, 7:05pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 February, 2017, 10:57pm

Senior Myanmar security officials say the assassination of a prominent legal adviser to the government was the result of a personal political grudge and not part of a bigger conspiracy by the military.

Police and Home Ministry officials said at a news conference Saturday that they have arrested three men for the January 29 shooting of lawyer Ko Ni and are seeking a fourth.

Ko Ni had advised Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on constitutional law, including how to wrest power from the army and put it in the hands of her elected civilian government. His actions raised suspicion of military involvement in his killing.

Deputy Home Affairs Minister General Kyaw Swe said the killing was the work of four individuals acting from personal motives, including extreme nationalism.

The suspected shooter – named by police as Kyi Linn, 53 – was arrested after a group of taxi drivers chased the him down. One of the drivers was himself shot and killed.

Police said Kyi Linn - who is charged with murder - has been jailed twice in the past for trafficking Buddhist artefacts, but was released in a 2014 amnesty granted by then-President Thein Sein.

The murder came amid heightened religious and communal tensions in the Buddhist-majority country, with a report from the United Nations human rights office earlier this month saying a military crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in the northwest in recent months “very likely” amounted to crimes against humanity.

Additional reporting by Reuters