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Myanmar arrests second suspect in Muslim lawyer murder

Yangon: A second suspect has been arrested over the brazen murder of a prominent Muslim lawyer in Myanmar, state media reported today, as questions build over a killing that stunned the Buddhist-majority country. Ko Ni, a 63-year-old legal advisor to Aung San Suu Kyi's ruling National League for Democracy, was shot in the head outside Yangon's airport last Sunday while he was holding his grandson and waiting for a taxi.

Aung San Suu Kyi. AP

Aung San Suu Kyi. AP

A cab driver who tried to intervene was also killed, and the gunman — identified as 53-year-old Kyi Lin — was arrested at the scene. Police have not offered a motive for the murder of Ko Ni, who spoke out against rising anti-Islamic sentiment and also criticised the army's lingering grip on power.

But the NLD, whose electoral victory ended decades of military rule, has called the murder a political assassination and "terrorist act" against their policies.  After a series of police leaks and conflicting comments about the investigation, state media confirmed today that a second suspect had been arrested 12 hours after the murder. Aung Win Zaw, 46, was detained in Kayin State on 30 January, 2017, the Global New Light of Myanmar reported, describing him as "an alleged conspirator of the crime".

"A combined team from the Tatmadaw (Myanmar army) and Myanmar Police Force is continuing to work to get more information," said a statement from the president's office. Political murders are rare in Yangon and Ko Ni's killing has rippled fear across Myanmar's minority Muslim community and the young NLD-led government.

The veteran party member was an outspoken critic of a charter drafted by the former junta that enshrines the military's control over key government bodies and a quarter of parliament seats. He was also a voice for religious pluralism in Myanmar, which has been hit by bouts of sectarian violence. His funeral on Monday drew thousands of mourners and a rare show of solidarity between religious leaders and politicians from across the spectrum.

Today hundreds more attended a prayer ceremony jointly led by imams and Buddhist monks honouring both Ko Ni and the taxi driver Ne Win. Among those in the crowd was NLD member Wai Wai Thein, who told AFP that she feared for the safety of other leading politicians.

Published Date: Feb 04, 2017 14:43 PM | Updated Date: Feb 04, 2017 14:48 PM

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