Soe Moe Tun, 35, was found dead with bruises and injuries to his face and head near a golf course in Monywa, in Myanmar’s northwestern Sagaing Region, according to news reports.
Police Captain Thein Swe Myint said police had opened a murder investigation into the reporter’s death but that they had not yet identified any suspects or possible motives, according to news reports. The police official told Reuters that Soe Moe Tun had been “attacked” and “beaten” in the back of the head with a stick.
The multimedia news group Democratic Voice of Burma reported that the reporter’s belongings, including his motorbike, two mobile phones, a ring, and some money were found at the crime scene, suggesting that robbery was an unlikely motive for the murder.
Eleven Media Group, the owner and publisher of Daily Eleven, said in a press release published on its website on December 13 that Soe Moe Tun had served as its reporter in Myonwa and surrounding areas since January 2015.
Ko Min Thant, Eleven Media Group’s bureau chief in the town of Mandalay, said that Soe Moe Tun was investigating a story on alleged illegal logging and wood smuggling at the time of his death, news reports said. He said Soe Moe Tun had previously reported on illegal wood smuggling in the region, reports said.
Reuters, citing an anonymous editor at the newspaper, said that Soe Moe Tun had reported on various sensitive subjects, including a recent seizure of narcotic stimulant tablets and a surge in new karaoke lounges in the region that allegedly operated as illegal brothels.
Nay Htun Naing, a Daily Eleven editor, told CPJ that he and other managers believed Soe Moe Tun’s reporting on sensitive subjects was the most likely motive for his murder. Ko Min Thant said the reporter was a “quiet man” who, in his estimation, was “on good terms with everybody.”