Myanmar orders body of slain journalist to be exhumed

YANGON - Police in Myanmar have been ordered to exhume the body of a journalist who was shot dead by the Army last month, the victim's wife told Reuters on Monday.

The incident comes at a sensitive time for Myanmar as the government prepares to host US President Barack Obama at a regional summit later this month.

The US State Department has called for a transparent investigation into the death of the journalist, Par Gyi, a former democracy activist who once worked as a bodyguard for Aung San Suu Kyi.

His wife, Than Dar, said police had told her to go on Wednesday to her husband's burial place at Shwewarchaung Village, in Mon state, but gave her no other details.

She said she was unsure if she would be able to arrange for an independent autopsy. "I don't know anything yet," she said. "But I don't think they will let me do that." The police have said military representatives, the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission, and legal and medical personnel would witness the exhumation, along with police officials.

President Thein Sein last week ordered Myanmar's National Human Rights Commission to investigate the death, the government said in a statement published in state media.

Par Gyi was detained by the Army on Sept. 30 after photographing clashes between the military and the rebel Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) and was killed on Oct. 4, the Myanmar-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) said.

The AAPP has disputed a statement by the military that Par Gyi was shot when he tried to steal a gun from a soldier and escape after being detained because he was a member of an ethnic Karen rebel organization.

Than Dar, a prominent women's activist, denies her husband was a member of any military organization. She says she suspects he died while being tortured, leading the military to bury his body in secret.

She urged the government to return the body to the family. "I sent a request letter to bring my husband's body back to Yangon for a proper cremation," she said. "But I don't know yet when or if they'll allow me to do this."