Ten Bago Region police officers are being investigated after they appear to have killed a suspect in custody and then dumped his body in an attempt to hide the crime, The Myanmar Times has learned. Police records indicate the man was beaten to death after he refused to cooperate with the officers.
The 30-year-old victim, who has not been identified but who was arrested for loitering, was found dead in a creek near the regional cemetery, according to police records.
The Baw Ka Hta Village station chief and nine police officers have been detained and are facing murder charges.
The case began with a call to the Baw Ka Hta police station on the evening of December 24. The village head reported seeing a strange man suspiciously loitering around Ma Bee Kyi village. The station took the man into custody, and police records indicate he was booked in the station jail.
The man was then interrogated at the Baw Ka Hta police station, but declined to answer officers’ questions. Attempting to elicit a response the officers began beating the suspect, and he reportedly died around 2am. According to the police record, the officers deposited the body of the victim in a local creek.
“The Baw Ka Hta station’s officers are being arraigned for 30 days during the investigation process. The Shwegyin township police station’s deputy chief officer is leading the investigation into the case which was opened at the Baw Ka Hta police station on December 29,” U Than Naing, chief of police at the Shwegyin township station told The Myanmar Times.
The officers and station chief have been charged under sections 114, 201 and 302 of the penal code for abetting a crime, disappearing evidence of a crime, and murder, respectively. If convicted, they could face a maximum of life in prison.
According to the police record, the officers were initially following their responsibility in investigating the victim, however the case turned into one of murder out of anger.
U Robert Sann Aung, a prominent lawyer and human rights activist, said the police have harmed the dignity of the government and the reputation of the rule of law, and should be punished if found guilty.
“It reflects a very low standard of work that police think in investigating someone they can just beat them over suspicions. Police officers do not have proper education or training, and so behave as thugs rather than like policemen,” he said.
Additional reporting by Toe Wai Aung