Saturday, February 13, 2010

Two Timber Traders Detained Nearly Three Months Without Trial

Maungdaw: Two timber traders, who were arrested on 8 November 2009, have been detained for nearly three months without being produced before the court because Nasaka officials fear the case will bring murder charges against one of their own, said a police official from Maungdaw on the condition of anonymity.

He said, "Police officials have failed to produce the two timber traders before the court even though they were arrested three months ago. The Nasaka officials are afraid that will face allegations of murder and misappropriation of seized goods if the case is transferred to the police department."

On 8 November 2009, a group of Nasaka officers led by Major Kyaw Aung, who is in charge of Nasaka Area No. 7 in southern Maungdaw Township, seized a timber cargo boat on the Naff River on the Burma and Bangladesh border. Several shots were fired in the altercation.

One helmsman on the boat was killed and two timber traders were critically injured. Soon after, Nasaka authorities sent the helmsman's body to Maungdaw for burial and the two wounded traders were dispatched to an army hospital in Sittwe for treatment.

"I heard through their family that the two timber traders are now recovered but are still in army hospital No. 17/100 in Sittwe. But they have been placed in lock-up in the hospital because the concerned Nasaka officials have failed to bring them from the hospital to transfer to the police."

The two timber traders have been identified as U Zaw Win Naing and U Pre Thee from Bo Koke Village in Taungup Township, and they are currently staying in the lockup of the army hospital in Sittwe, the capital of Arakan State, without charges or trial.

Nasaka official Major Kyaw Aung submitted only 30 tons of timber as seized contraband from the boat, despite that the boat carried an estimated 300 tons of timber and other materials.

Major Kyaw Aung allegedly sold the other 270 tons of timber and one small crane on the black market for his personal gain after concealing the full extent of the cargo seized from higher-ups.

"Major Kyaw Aung is now afraid his misappropriation and the murder will become apparent in court when the judge examines the case. So he has neglected to transfer the case to the police department, and the timber traders have been living in an army hospital for three months without justice," the police official said.

Another source said that in Maungdaw, relations between Nasaka and the police force have been strained since some high police officials from Maungdaw were fired last year after Nasaka Chief Colonel Aung Gyi informed Nayipyidaw of their own misappropriation.

According to a Nasaka source, Major Kyaw Aung was transferred to Nasaka Area No. 3 from Area No. 7 after he bribed some higher officials after the incident took place.

"Major Kyaw Aung is afraid right now to transfer the case to police because the police department may retaliated against him for the fired police officers. Nevertheless, he must transfer the case to police in a day. We are now waiting to see what will happen with the case in the near future," the official added.


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