Seven Burmese army soldiers have been arrested in connection with the shooting and killing of two youths in Bago last month.
They are reportedly being detained in Bago police station and interrogated over the deaths of Soe Paing Zaw, 19, and Aung Thu Hein, 23, which was picked up by international media. Four policemen were also arrested after allegations surfaced that they had rounded up and beat civilians prior to the incident.
Burmese lawyer and legal expert, Aye Myint, who heads the Guiding Star legal advocacy group, said that the Police Court had already completed the investigation.
He added that under police disciplinary rules the defendants can be punished with up to three years in jail, “but I suspect the punishment will be more than that because the case is being forwarded to the minister in Naypyidaw and I heard the court wants to make an example of the defendants”.
“So, no judgment has been passed yet on the four police personnel who are still being held in the lockup,” Aye Myint continued. “The inquiry is completed and they are waiting for a directive about passing stiffer sentences or just the regular three years.”
Among those detained are two army officers and a police captain in charge of No 1 Police Station in Bago town. They are alleged to have been involved in the shootings, which occurred in the early hours of 5 September after a quarrel over damage to a motorbike broke out.
The soldiers had reportedly been drinking beer nearby, and after a fight broke out, one officer ran away and came back with four security troops from Bago railway station. It was one of these, Maung Tun, who fired the fatal shots, Aye Myint said.
State media in Burma looked to hush up the incident, which they branded “just a drunken brawl”, by hurriedly cremating the bodies several days after amid tight security.
It also attempted to quell threats of protest by claiming in the New Light of Myanmar newspaper that it was an isolated incident and “not a fight between the Tatmadaw [Burmese army] and the public”.