Nov 9, 2009 (DVB), A man accused of stealing a vacuum flask has died after being beaten by police during interrogation in central Burma, according to locals.
Police in Bago division's Latpadan township have reportedly barred local residents from seeing the body of 40-year-old Win Maung, who died on Saturday.
"He was already dying when he came home after being carried by people who worked at the police custody," an eye-witness said. "He died the next hour."
He had been detained overnight in nearby Hmaw Inn village, and was unconscious by the time he was sent home on Saturday morning.
A policeman at Latpadan police station confirmed Win Maung's death and said that a team of officials had been sent to Yaynaut village, where he lived, to investigate the incident.
Police brutality in Burma is common, particularly during the interrogation stages of an arrest. The Burmese government has long been criticized for providing impunity to law-enforcement officials.
Last month 11 political activists, including one monk, were reportedly tortured by police during an interrogation over their role in the September 2007 monk-led uprising.
The lawyer of the monk, U Sandimar, said that the judge neglected to address complaints of torture when he passed the guilty verdict on the activists.
The Asia Human Rights Commission (AHRC) said last month that torture, often thought to be reserved for political prisoners, was being used on "ordinary criminals" in Burma.
A report released by the commission said that it had documented cases of torture being used on a range of people, from the elderly to teenage girls.
According to AHRC, Burma's 2008 constitution does not prohibit the use of torture. Furthermore, the country has never been a signatory to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which provides for consideration of torture as a crime against humanity.
Reporting by Min Lwin