Govt minister says Taungoo bomber did not confess under torture

Senior officials from the Karen National Union (KNU) went to Taungoo on 17 December to visit Saw Htun Htun, the suspect charged with planting a bomb in the Chan Myae guesthouse in October, killing two people.

Karen rebel leaders decided to visit the suspect after he changed his statement to the police about his involvement in the attack.

The KNU were the first to question Saw Htun Htun when he was arrested and they said he initially denied any connection to the bombing.

According to police, he has now given a full confession admitting that he stayed at the Chan Myae guesthouse on 9 October and that he left a bag behind the curtains before checking out the next day.

Fearing Saw Htun Htun confessed under duress or torture, KNU leaders went to see him in Taungoo.

“He denied having any connection with the bombing when we questioned him, but now that we have learnt he had confessed we decided we should come and see him,” said KNU Central Executive Committee member, Saw Roger Khin.

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To prove he had not been tortured, Saw Htun Htun was asked to remove his clothes.

Security and Border Affairs Minister Col. Thet Htun, insisted torture is not used during interrogations these days, and said Saw Htun Htun had confessed voluntarily.

“Nowadays, we no longer interrogate our suspects discreetly in secret facilities – that was a long, long time ago. Now, we just question them normally and we record the interrogation sessions. If someone finds a scratch on Saw Htun Htun, we will accept responsibility,” said Col. Thet Htun.

Both the KNU and police believe Saw Htun Htun is not the mastermind behind the bombing.

“When we showed him photos of the aftermath of the bombing he was very sad to learn it was something he caused and so he confessed. But he did not really plot the bombing – he was told by someone else to leave the bag,” said Col. Thet Htun.

In October, Burma was struck by a series of bomb attacks, which claimed two lives and injured an American woman.

Although suspect Saw Myint Lwin, was arrested in connection with a bomb in the Traders Hotel in Rangoon, no other suspects, apart from Saw Htun Htun, have been arrested or charged and no group have taken responsibility for the attacks.

According to the AFP, Saw Myint Lwin claimed he was a member of the KNU but the armed ethnic rebel group has denied this.

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