Journalist convicted of defaming mining giant
A columnist at a Tanintharyi weekly journal has been given the choice between paying a fine or serving time in relation to an op-ed penned from a fish’s perspective.
A JOURNALIST for a Tanintharyi publication has been found guilty of defamation and was sentenced to pay a K30,000 fine or serve a three-month sentence.
The columnist, U Aung Lwin, was sued by mining company Delco over an article he had written for the weekly.
The article, published on May 11, evocatively described the feelings of a fish whose habitat has been poisoned by industrial waste dumped. Delco was not mentioned by name in the piece.
After four months and 12 hearings, Yephyu Township Court ruled in the mining company’s favour.
“I will just pay the fine and appeal at the district-level court,” U Aung Lwin said following the decision.
Delco’s mining operations in the region, which began in 2008, have been dogged by complaints of damage caused to local waterways. In the wake of the verdict, the Dawei Watch Foundation issued a press release stating that the court’s decision was a threat to freedom of the press and to journalists who bring environmental damage to the public’s attention.