02/15/2019, 12.42
MYANMAR
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Killers of Aung San Suu Kyi collaborator Ko Ni sentenced to death

The murder took place on January 29, 2017. Ko Ni was killed outside the Yangon airport shot at point-blank range.  The Muslim lawyer wanted to change the militarist Constitution. The bishops spokesman: "We reiterate no to capital punishment".

Yangon (AsiaNews) - Insein court, on the outskirts of Yangon, this morning sentenced to death the two people responsible for the murder of Ko Ni, a prominent Muslim lawyer and close associate of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Judge Khin Maung Maung condemned Kyi Lin (photo), who during his escape also killed a taxi driver, to "death by hanging". The same fate belongs to his accomplice, Aung Win Zaw. Although the Myanmar system provides for capital punishment, it has not been applied in the last 10 years. Two defendants, Zeya Phyo and Aung Win Tun, are guilty of taking part in several stages of the conspiracy and received a sentence of five and three years in prison with forced labor.

The verdict comes just over two years after the murder, which took place on 29 January 2017. The crime shocked the country and took place about eight months after the formation of the first civilian government after almost 50 years of military regimes.

 Ko Ni was killed outside the international airport of Yangon shot at point blank range, while holding his grandson in his arms. Nay Win, a taxi driver who had launched himself in pursuit of Kyi Lin, also lost his life. His death cost the murderer an additional sentence of 23 years of forced labor. His lawyers have announced that they will appeal to the Supreme Court.

Ko Ni, 63, was a consultant on constitutional reform of the party led by the Lady, the National League for Democracy (NLD). A prominent exponent of the Islamic community, Ko Ni was known in the country for his legal activism. One of his many battles, perhaps the most important and which according to observers cost him his life, was dedicated to attempts to reform the Constitution, imposed in 2008 by the military through a controversial referendum. This aroused suspicions - repeatedly denied in an official manner – of military involvement in his murder. Critics argue that the slow trial failed to establish a complete picture of what led to the murder and underline the military past of the two main defendants. It is widely believed that the true instigator of the murder is still a fugitive.

"Despite today's convictions, the Burmese know that the case is not closed," Fr. Mariano Soe Naing, spokesperson of the Myanmar Bishops' Conference (Cbcm) and director of the Office for Social Communication (OSC) told AsiaNews.

 "The judges - continues the priest - have ascertained that a man has been paid to commit a murder, but it is still unknown who hired him. Citizens followed the trial closely. A similar verdict was expected and a lighter sentence was unlikely. The judicial system responds to military summits and is beyond the control of Aung San Suu Kyi and her government. A death sentence has not been carried out in Myanmar for many years: this verdict is often turned into life imprisonment. Because of the brutality of the murder, in this case people could not accept it. Two people died, in public and in daylight. Despite everything, as Catholics, we cannot however exempt ourselves from reiterating the teachings of the Catholic Church and the appeals of Pope Francis against capital punishment".

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