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Police in Shan State’s Hopong Township have said that a local leader of the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP) was accidently shot dead by police when he tried to flee arrest under suspicion of the murder of a political rival in June.
Deputy Superintendent Kyaw Min Soe said the SNDP’s deputy chairman in Hopong, Sai Shwe, was wanted for questioning as the prime suspect in the murder of the National League for Democracy’s Sai San Tun, the Mongpyin Lattat village chairman, who was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head in June.
The senior police officer said Sai Shwe and Sai San Tun had a personal feud over a land ownership dispute. Sai Shwe was summoned several times by the police for questioning after his rival’s murder, but never showed up.
Police said they attempted to arrest him at his home on 12 September, but he tried to escape. Police shot at him but accidentally killed him in the pursuit, the spokesperson said.
Details of the incident had not been disclosed until this weekend.
“U Sai Shwe had an ongoing personal vendetta with Sai San Tun over ownership of a plot of land,” said Kyaw Min Soe. “We summoned him several times for questioning but he never appeared. Police officers finally went to his home on 12 September, but he tried to escape via the backdoor. Police station chief Sai Naw Kham Lwin fired a warning shot that accidentally hit him. He was immediately rushed to the hospital in Taunggyi, which is about two hours’ drive, but he died on the way.”
He said Hopong police have opened an investigation inquiry into Sai Shwe’s death.
However, SNDP’s local executive Sai Maung Tin said the family of Sai Shwe and fellow villagers who witnessed the incident claim he was shot dead intentionally by the police.
He said they were demanding that the regional government ensure justice over the killing, and they have threatened to stage public protests if they see no progress in the inquiry by the end of the month.
“Both the family of the deceased and eye-witnesses said the police shot him deliberately,” he said. “They sent a letter to the [Shan] regional government on 16 October but have received no response to date.
“If there is no development in the case by the end of November, we will stage protests and call for support from the public.”
He said the killing of Sai Shwe by the police, who are responsible for protecting the public, indicated a lack of rule of law.
NLD village leader Sai San Tun was taken from his home by two unknown assailants in December and later found dead with a gunshot wound to the head. He was known for actively assisting local villagers fighting to reclaim their confiscated land.