British teacher fled Myanmar after colleague death: Govt

YANGON - A British teacher wanted by police after a colleague was found dead in his Yangon apartment has fled the country, the Myanmar government said on Monday.

Police said the 47-year-old victim, named as Briton Peter Gary Ferguson, was found dead on Sunday with wounds to his head and chest.

His wife reportedly discovered the body inside an apartment belonging to his 25-year-old colleague and compatriot, Harris Binotti.

Police said the pair, who worked at Horizon International School, had been out drinking on Friday night.

Myanmar's Ministry of Information said Binotti had left the country on Sunday but gave no further details on his whereabouts.

"The defendant of the case left from Yangon International Airport by Thai Airways on the evening on 5 November," it said in a statement.

Binotti's whereabouts were not immediately clear, with police in Thailand unwilling to comment on the possibility that he may have entered the kingdom or used it as a tranist point.

Captain Koe Myo, head of police in the Yangon township where Ferguson's body was found, said Interpol would be called in to aid the manhunt.

"Now it becomes a cross-border case and it is formally up to the Interpol to deal with the process," he told AFP.

Police have taken statements from Ferguson's wife, a Thai woman with whom he has a young child, and Binotti's partner.

At the weathered, three-block building in downtown Yangon where Binotti lived, neighbours recalled hearing two men fighting early Saturday.

"I heard their cries, saying: 'Go, go,' but I can't understand the rest as it was in English," Myint Myint, an elderly woman who lives on the ground floor, told AFP.

"I heard them throwing things. I think it happened around 4:00 am (on Saturday). Then they became silent."

Another resident, who asked to remain nameless, added: "The neighbours could hear them fight... but they were not sure what to do as they did not know them."

Horizon International's director of studies said the school had heard the news of Ferguson's death after he suffered a "hard blow to his chest and his head".

But "we have absolutely no idea why this happened", Shahriyor Turgunov added in an email to AFP.

"We haven't heard from Harris, even." Violent crimes against foreigners are rare in former junta-run Myanmar, whose expatriate population remains small compared to other Southeast Asian countries but is growing fast.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Yangon is offering "support to the family of a British national following a death", a spokesman said, adding the embassy is "in touch with the local authorities".