YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — The assassination of a prominent legal adviser to Myanmar's government was the result of a personal political grudge and not part of a bigger conspiracy by the military, senior security officials said Saturday.
Police and Home Ministry officials said at a news conference that they have arrested three men for the Jan. 29 shooting of lawyer Ko Ni and are seeking a fourth.
Ko Ni had advised Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on constitutional law, including how to wrest power from the army and put it in the hands of her elected civilian government. His actions raised suspicion of vengeful military involvement in his killing.
Military or military-dominated governments ruled Myanmar from 1962 until Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party took power in 2016 after an overwhelming election victory. But a constitution passed during army rule ensures that the military retains great power in government, including a virtual veto over constitutional change.
Home Affairs Minister Lt. Gen. Kyaw Swe acknowledged that many aspects of the Ko Ni murder case still need investigation, but that the authorities now believed that it was personal reasons and extreme nationalism that led the suspects to carry out the assassination.
In their briefing to the press, police said the murder plot was hatched around April last year, when its alleged planners were talking at a tea shop.
Senior Police Officer Zaw Win said they expressed their personal dissatisfaction with Ko Ni's activities, and that the conclusion of the police investigation was that "the murder was because of their own personal reasons."
They allegedly hired an ex-convict, Kyi Lin, to be the gunman, reportedly paying him almost $60,000. He was captured right after shooting Ko Ni at Yangon's airport.
The officials at the news conference sought to quell speculation that the army was involved in Ko Ni's murder, saying that was a misimpression fostered by several of the suspects being retired officers.