Fifth civilian court hearing in Par Gyi case

Fifth civilian court hearing in Par Gyi case

The fifth court hearing into the killing of freelance reporter Par Gyi took place at Mon State’s Kyeikmayaw township court on Monday.

“The court in the hearing today heard accounts from four civilian witnesses, two of whom were eye witnesses. They all testified,” Ma Thandar, Par Gyi’s widow, told DVB on Monday.

A date was also set for the next hearing, which will take place on 1 June.

Par Gyi, also known as Aung Kyaw Naing, was killed in military custody in September after being arrested by government forces while embedded with the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army. The Burmese army said he was shot while trying to escape, but the injuries discovered when his body was finally exhumed after a long campaign by his widow Ma Thandar were not concurrent with that version of events.

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A subsequent investigation by Myanmar Human Rights Commission proposed that the case should be heard in a civilian court. However, the military overruled that recommendation, insisting it would instead be heard in a military court as the death occurred during conflict, resulting in two parallel cases.

Ma Thandar said that she sent a letter of complaint to government bodies following the acquittal of two servicemen of charges relating to Par Gyi’s killing by a military on earlier this month.

Lance-Cpl Kyaw Kyaw Aung and Pvt. Naing Lin Htun on 8 May were released unconditionally by a martial court after being detained under Article 71 of the Military Code (court martial procedures) and Section 304 of the Penal Code (culpable homicide).

Ma Thandar said she wrote to 21 different government departments, including the President’s Office, the office of the commander-in-chief, and the parliamentary Rule of Law and Tranquillity Committee, led by National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

“I sent out a letter complaining about the army’s claim that the two servicemen had been acquitted in accordance with the 2008 Constitution. I want to point out that in that case, the 2008 Constitution can only protect soldiers but not civilians. My husband was arrested in a crowded downtown area, and no legal procedures were followed throughout his interrogation.

“He was not charged in accordance with the law, but the soldiers who caused his death were apparently released in accordance with the 2008 Constitution,” said Ma Thandar.

Previous hearings were held at the Kyeikmayaw court on 10, 23 and 30 April, and 11 May.

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