Two men sentenced to death in murder of prominent Muslim lawyer

A court in Myanmar has sentenced two men to death for the murder of a Muslim lawyer in broad daylight in 2017.

Ko Ni, a lawyer and prominent member of Myanmar’s Muslim minority, was shot in the back of the head and killed at Yangon’s airport two years ago.

At the time of his assassination, Mr. Ko Ni was a legal adviser to the country’s current de facto civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The court found Kyi Lin, the gunman, and his accomplice Aung Win Zaw guilty of premeditated murder and illegal weapons possession for the killing. They both received the maximum penalty of capital punishment.

Myanmar has, however, not carried out the death penalty for decades.

A third man, Zeyar Phyo, received a five-year sentence for his role in the conspiracy while Aung Win Tun, a fourth defendant, received three years for harbouring Aung Win Zaw.

On the second anniversary of Ko Ni’s death, friends, family and foreign diplomats packed into the upper floor of a restaurant in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, to celebrate his life and demand justice, the BBC reported.

According to Al Jazeera, at the time of his assassination, Ko Ni was working on plans to amend or replace the country’s military-drafted constitution.

Myanmar’s military has been accused of genocide against Muslims in the Asian country, specially the Rohingya, who numbered around one million in Myanmar at the start of 2017.

Rohingya Muslims represent the largest percentage of Muslims in Myanmar, with the majority living in Rakhine state.

Roughly half a million of them have fled Myanmar into neighboring Bangladesh after the largest military campaign against the Muslim minority in history.  There have been reports of indiscriminate killings, village burnings and rapes, amounting to “crimes against humanity” and “ethnic cleansing”, according to the United Nations.