YANGON, Myanmar (AP) – The body of a freelance journalist shot by Myanmar’s army showed signs that he was tortured before he died, his wife said Thursday.
Ma Thandar said the body, which was exhumed Wednesday, had a broken skull, broken jaw and two penetration marks on the chest.
Myanmar started moving from a half-century of dictatorship to democracy three years ago, but the investigation into Aung Kyaw Naing’s death adds to questions about how much the military has changed.
The reporter, also known as Ko Par Gyi, was detained by the military while covering clashes between the army and ethnic Karen rebels in Mon state in September.
After his wife raised questions, the military said last week they shot him dead Oct 4 as he tried to reach for a soldier’s gun during an attempted escape.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the military and media are increasingly at loggerheads over the reporting of security-related information perceived as sensitive.
Four journalists and the chief executive officer of the local Unity newspaper have been sentenced to 10 years in prison with hard labour this year for reporting on a secretive military installation in the country’s central Magwe Division.
Their sentences were later reduced to seven years each.
At least nine other journalists have been sentenced to prison this year, according to CPJ.
Thandar, who is a prominent activist in Myanmar, said she, other activists and nearly 100 soldiers, police and government officials were present when the body was exhumed in Kyaikmaraw township, Mon state in southeastern Myanmar.
“I could not see the gunshot wound, but his face was not immediately recognisable because his jaws and tooth were broken and smashed, which were indicative of torture,” Thandar said.
She said the body was taken to the hospital for further examination, but the initial marks showed the broken skull and two small penetration marks that looked to have been caused by a sharp object and not by gunshots.
Several ribs and an ankle also appeared to have been broken, she said.
Thandar said that forensic doctors on Thursday showed her X-rays of the body and said preliminary findings showed five gunshot wounds on his body, but she remained convinced that he was tortured and sceptical of the official findings.
It was not known when a full autopsy report will be available.