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Phyo Ko Ko Tint San faces more charges in weapons smuggling case

(Left to right) Zaw Win Htike, Ye Min Swe and Phyo Ko Ko Tint San, who were arrested for illegal possession of firearms and drugs at Naypyidaw Airport on 15 October 2017.

Additional charges have been filed against Phyo Ko Ko Tint San, the son of Burma’s former sports minister Tint San, for possessing uniforms and logos of the Burmese military and police force.

“Datkhina Thiri Myoma police station has now charged him with four offences,” said local police officer Myint Soe. “First he was charged under the Firearms Act. Then on Wednesday we charged him under the Communications Act; the Imports and Exports Act; and the State Secrets Act.”

Phyo Ko Ko Tint San and two other men were arrested at Naypyidaw Airport on Sunday night after being caught with two pistols, 72 bullets, 12 methamphetamine pills, 1.5 grammes of powdered methamphetamine, and three walkie-talkies. A search of their rooms at the ACE Hotel and associated offices in Naypyidaw uncovered more weapons. Police say they have now seized 21 firearms and upwards of 1,000 bullets.

Phyo Ko Ko Tint San’s father, former minister Tint San, is also chairman of the ACE Group of Companies, which owns the ACE Hotel. Apart from the hotel and hospitality sector, the ACE Group of Companies has interests in construction, machinery and business development.

Police spokesman Myint Soe told DVB on Friday that five more suspects have been detained in connection with the case.

Human rights lawyer Robert San Aung said that charges of treason should be pressed against anyone who attempts to smuggle such a large cache of weaponry. He described the case as “very worrying for national security.”

Speaking to DVB, he said, “First and foremost, they should be charged with treason. After that, charges can be filed under the State Secrets Act, the Firearms Law, and the Communications Law.”

“Look at the number of bullets. These firearms could have been used to kill up to 500 people. It is not something to be underestimated.”