Yangon Region’s High Court has accepted the charges against former regional attorney general Han Htoo and five other officials who are suspected of accepting bribes to drop the murder case against the alleged killers of comedian and viral video star Aung Yell Htwe.
The regional attorney general, along with judge Aung Kyi from the Yangon Eastern District Court, prosecutors Thein Zaw, Ko Ko Lay, and Daw Thit Thit Khin, and police lieutenant Chit Ko Ko, were arrested on Sept. 13 and charged under Myanmar’s Anti-Corruption Law.
The six were sent to Insein Prison, and Han Htoo was shortly thereafter removed from his post.
According to the Anti-Corruption Commission, which brought the charges, the six officials accepted a total K72 million (US$46,300) from Khin Maung Lay, the father of one of the men who is suspected of fatally beating the comedian at a New Year’s party earlier this year.
The case against Khin Maung Lay’s son and two other suspects was mysteriously dropped in July, and all three suspects were rumored to have left the country, sparking widespread public backlash as well as commitments from Myanmar’s president that the case would be reopened.
On Monday, the High Court ruled that the murder case would proceed. The case was thought to have been remarkably strong before it was dropped because the beating took place in public and was seen by multiple witnesses.
However, veteran lawyer and Myanmar Lawyers Network co-founder Kyee Myint told The Irrawaddy that picking up the case where it left off months ago would be more challenging.
Noticeably excluded from prosecution is alleged bribe-giver Khin Maung Lay, who has agreed to testify against the officials who allegedly accepted his bribe in exchange for immunity.
The court will begin questioning the official on Oct. 4. If convicted, they will face between 10 and 15 years in prison.