YANGON (Reuters) – A police officer who mentioned he was a part of the group that detained two Reuters reporters in Myanmar in December informed a court docket on Wednesday that he was not accustomed to police procedures for recording arrests.
Second Lieutenant Myo Ko Ko was the most recent prosecution witness to provide proof in proceedings to resolve whether or not reporters Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, ought to be charged beneath Myanmar’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act.
Defense lawyer Khin Maung Zaw informed reporters after the listening to that Myo Ko Ko had conceded throughout cross-examination that he was not accustomed to procedural guidelines in Myanmar’s police handbook. “So he cannot be a reliable witness for the prosecution,” Khin Maung Zaw mentioned.
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Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have been arrested on Dec. 12 for allegedly acquiring confidential paperwork, after that they had been invited to fulfill law enforcement officials over dinner in Yangon.
The pair have informed kinfolk they have been arrested nearly instantly after being handed some papers at a restaurant by two officers that they had not met earlier than.
Asked concerning the location the place the arrests passed off, Myo Ko Ko mentioned it was on a road lined by factories. That contradicted a map beforehand produced by police and entered within the court docket file, which confirmed shops and tea retailers, however no factories.
Myo Ko Ko informed the court docket he was a part of the arresting group, however did not see the paperwork police have mentioned the 2 reporters have been holding of their palms.
At a earlier listening to, police Major Min Thant had agreed throughout cross-examination that the data within the paperwork that Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have been holding had already been revealed in newspaper experiences.
Earlier in Wednesday’s proceedings the prosecution had opposed a protection request that the police station logbook through which the arrests had been recorded ought to be proven to the court docket as proof, arguing that it was nonetheless in each day use and will not go away the police station.
Judge Ye Lwin refused the protection’s request, saying the protection did not have the best to see the report at this stage of the proceedings.
MASS GRAVE REPORT
The two reporters had been engaged on a Reuters investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim males who have been buried in a mass grave in northern Rakhine state after being hacked to dying or shot by ethnic Rakhine Buddhist neighbors and troopers.
After Reuters revealed its report on the killings on Feb. eight, calls have mounted for the discharge of the 2 reporters.
The United States mentioned at a gathering of the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday that Myanmar had “the gall to blame the media” for the scenario in Rakhine and demanded that the reporters be freed.
“For the crime of reporting the truth, the Burmese (Myanmar) government arrested and imprisoned the reporters,” mentioned Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. “Unhindered media access is vitally important. Journalists like the two imprisoned Reuters reporters are an indispensable source of information.”
Britain, France, the Netherlands and Kazakhstan additionally referred to as on the assembly for the discharge of the reporters.
Myanmar U.N. Ambassador Hau Do Suan mentioned Myanmar acknowledges freedom of the press and the journalists have been not arrested for reporting a narrative, however have been accused of “illegally possessing confidential government documents”.
Nearly 690,000 Rohingya have fled Rakhine and brought refuge in neighboring Bangladesh for the reason that Myanmar army launched a crackdown on insurgents on the finish of August, in line with the United Nations.
The United Nations has mentioned the army marketing campaign in opposition to the Rohingya might quantity to genocide. Myanmar says its safety forces mounted legit counter-insurgency clearance operations.
The subsequent listening to on the Insein District Court in Yangon was set for Feb. 21.
Reporting by Myanmar bureau; Writing by Raju Gopalakrishnan; Editing by Alex Richardson