Aung Kyaw Naing, “Par Gyi”

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Myanmar’s military said it shot and killed Aung Kyaw Naing, 49, a Burmese freelance reporter, while holding him in custody near Kyaikmayaw Township in the country’s southeastern Mon state, according to news reports.

An army statement addressed to the local Interim Press Council on October 23 said Naing was first apprehended on September 30 and killed on October 4, according to news reports. His body was buried by authorities at Shwe War Chong, a village outside of Kyaikmayaw, without notifying his family, the reports said.

Naing had been reporting from an area held by the rebel Democratic Karen Benevolent Army before he was arrested. Naing, also known as Par Gyi, contributed news and photos to the publications Eleven Media, Yangon Times, and The Voice, according to local journalists and news reports.

The army statement said Naing was shot when he attempted to seize a soldier’s gun and escape detention, news reports said. The statement also said Naing served as a “communications captain” for the Klohtoobaw Karen Organization, the political wing of the DKBA, according to news reports. The organization denied that Naing was affiliated with them, The Irrawaddy, an exile-run media outlet, reported.

Earlier news reports citing Naing’s wife, Than Dar, said the journalist had been held at the Light Infantry Division 208’s base in Kyaikmayaw. Than Dar said in a press conference days before the army released its statement on Naing’s killing that police told her Naing had been beaten while held at the base, according to reports.

Than Dar filed murder charges against the military for the death of her husband, according to news reports. Naing’s body was exhumed on November 5 as part of a government investigation into his death, the BBC reported. The Democratic Voice of Burma reported, citing an eyewitness, that Naing had been shot five times and showed signs of torture including a broken jaw, a caved-in skull, and swelling on the torso indicating broken ribs.

In November 2014, a military court in a secret trial acquitted two soldiers of his death. Police pursuing a separate civil complaint announced they had stopped their investigation into the case in April 2016 after the Kyaikmayaw Township Court ruled the reporter had died of “unnatural causes,” press reports said. The ruling said that the court did not have jurisdiction over crimes committed by the military, the reports said. Than Dar’s lawyer, Robert San Aung, said he would appeal the decision to a higher court, the reports said.