Wed 29 Nov 2006
Filed under: News,On The Border
More than 60 Burmese Customs Department officials have been arrested in countrywide raids and a similar number have gone into hiding, according to border sources.
The junta issued warrants for the arrest of 114 officials, 61 of whom had been detained, the sources said. Police were searching for the others.
The latest raids follow an earlier sweep resulting in the imprisonment of about 60 customs officials and traders in Rangoon and Shan State on charges of corruption, illegal trading and tax evasion. One prominent defendant, Customs Department Director-General Col Khin Maung Lin, received a 66-year sentence.
Among those arrested in the latest police action was the Custom Department and Border Trade’s deputy director-general in the Shan State border town of Tachilek, Win Swe. A police official in Tachilek confirmed that two arrests had been made there.
Aung Kyaw Zaw, a Burmese political analysis based on the Burma-China border, said police and Special Bureau Investigation officials from Rangoon and local police had raided the Muse customs office in northern Shan State, near the Chinese border, on Monday evening.
Aung Kyaw Zaw said two officials had been arrested and around a dozen had escaped to China. One official had reportedly committed suicide.
Police sources told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that the latest arrests were ordered by the newly appointed Customs Department Director-general, Col Hla Win, in a move to sever links with his predecessor.
The arrests follow an announcement in state-run newspaper The New Light of Myanmar on November 21 by Burma’s Ministry of Finance and Revenue, inviting members of the public to â€œfile complaints against any misconductâ€ by its staff members in a drive to ensure a so-called clean administrative machinery.
In recent months several customs officials at Burmese airports, sea ports and border trade offices have been replaced. The property and assets of those convicted and jailed have been confiscated by the state.
The regime scheduled a press conference for Wednesday, at which more details of the latest arrests were expected to emerge.