Tuesday, March 26, 2019 | ePaper

Myanmar court refuses to dismiss charges against journalists

  • Print


Reuters journalist Wa Lone( center), walks along with his wife Pan Ei Mon, second left, as he is escorted by police upon arrival at his trial on Wednesday in Yangon.

AP, Yangon :
A Myanmar court on Wednesday refused to dismiss a case against two Reuters journalists after the reporters' lawyers insisted last week that the evidence doesn't support the charges.
The case against Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo has been strongly criticized internationally as an effort by authorities to intimidate the press, especially its coverage of the sensitive situation in Myanmar's Rakhine state, where the military is accused of massive human rights abuses against the Muslim Rohingya minority.
The two journalists were arrested Dec. 12, with police accusing them of violating the Official Secrets Act, a law dating from British colonial times, by acquiring "important secret papers" handed to them by two policemen who worked in Rakhine. If convicted, they could get up to 14 years in prison.
The two had worked on Reuters' coverage of the crisis in Rakhine, where security forces' response to a Muslim insurgents' attack have driven nearly 700,000 Rohingya to neighboring Bangladesh.
On Tuesday, Myanmar's military announced it had sentenced seven soldiers to 10 years in prison for their part in killings, a case covered by the two reporters, a development both referenced as they left court, contrasting the sentence the soldiers received to the maximum sentence they might receive.
"We journalists just did our job as we have the rights of free press in the democracy and now we are facing the charge that could probably put us in prison for 14 years," Wa Lone shouted out.
"I'm not happy at all," Kyaw Soe Oo said. "The men who carried out the killings were just sentenced and they only got 10 years. Do you think that's fair?"
The case has drawn international attention, with high-profile rights lawyer Amal Clooney joining the legal team representing the jailed journalists. The United States, Britain and Canada, as well as the United Nations, have called for the reporters to be freed.
"Everybody knows it's unfair," said Wa Lone's wife, Pan Ei Mon. "I want them to be released soon. In front of my husband, I always pretend I'm OK, and I am tired of it."
The defense lawyers asked the judge last week to dismiss the charges after four months of preliminary hearings, saying testimony from prosecution witnesses did not give enough evidence to prove the pair violated the law.
"The judge said that eight more witnesses are still left to testify and our claims of baseless evidence from persecution witnesses are not yet true," Than Zaw Aung, one of the defense lawyers, said after Wednesday's hearing.

More News For this Category

Venezuela crisis: Russian military planes land near Caracas

Venezuela crisis: Russian military planes land near Caracas

Two Russian military planes landed in Venezuela's main airport on Saturday, reportedly carrying dozens of troops and large amounts of equipment.The planes were sent to "fulfil technical military contracts", Russia's

Thailand awaits election results as junta poised to retain power

Thailand awaits election results as junta poised to retain power

AFP  :Thailand on Monday awaited the results of its first election since a 2014 coup, with the junta primed to retain its grip on power after a vote that saw

Netanyahu to meet Trump, Golan Heights recognition expected

Netanyahu to meet Trump, Golan Heights recognition expected

AFP  :Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with Donald Trump in Washington on Monday amid expectations the US president will formally recognize the Jewish state's sovereignty over the Golan

Seven injured as Gaza rocket hits home in central Israel

Seven injured as Gaza rocket hits home in central Israel

Seven people have been injured after a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit a house in central Israel, police say.The rocket came down at 05:25 local time (03:25 GMT)

US air strikes kill a dozen Afghans, battle intensifies in Taliban strongholds

Reuters :US air strikes in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz killed about a dozen civilians on Saturday, local officials said, as battle intensified there and in southern Helmand province.The

 New Zealand's Ardern orders top-level inquiry

New Zealand's Ardern orders top-level inquiry

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has ordered a top-level inquiry into the Christchurch mosque attacks that left 50 people dead.She said a royal commission would examine whether police and

Maduro vows ‘deep’ change in Venezuela government amid pressure

Maduro vows ‘deep’ change in Venezuela government amid pressure

AP, Venezuela :Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro vowed a major shake-up in his government, a sign he is feeling pressure from U.S. sanctions and an international outcry for him to resign."I

Hundreds of thousands protest in London to demand new Brexit vote

Hundreds of thousands protest in London to demand new Brexit vote

Hundreds of thousands of protesters swamped London on Saturday demanding another referendum on EU membership amid political paralysis over Brexit, in one of the country's biggest protests in decades.Organisers said

Majority of Americans favor stricter gun laws

AP, Washington : A majority of Americans favor stricter gun laws, and most believe places of worship and schools have become less safe over the last two decades, according to

Thailand's coup leader and 'democratic front' face-off in long-awaited election

Thailand's coup leader and 'democratic front' face-off in long-awaited election

Reuters, Bangkok :Thai voters flocked to the polls on Sunday in a long-delayed election following a 2014 coup, a race that pits a military junta chief seeking to retain power