Bail de­ci­sion for Eleven defama­tion de­fen­dants post­poned

The Myanmar Times - - News - YE MON yeemon­tun@mm­times.com

LAWYERS for Eleven Me­dia Group CEO U Than Htut Aung and chief edi­tor U Wai Phyo lob­bied un­suc­cess­fully last week for a swift de­ci­sion on their bail pe­ti­tions, with the judge un­moved by their ap­peals to speed the rul­ing along in light of one of the de­fen­dants’ ail­ing health. Judge Daw Kay Thi Hlaing an­nounced on Novem­ber 25 that a rul­ing on whether to grant the two men’s re­quest will be made on Novem­ber 30.

She was speak­ing at Tarmwe Town­ship Court dur­ing the open­ing day of the two men’s trial on defama­tion charges, which was brought by the Yan­gon Re­gion gov­ern­ment.

In his ap­peal to the pre­sid­ing mag­is­trate, lawyer U Kyaw Lin said U Than Htut Aung had suf­fered a heart at­tack in In­sein Pri­son on Novem­ber 23, with no med­i­cal spe­cial­ist avail­able to pro­vide treat­ment at the no­to­ri­ous lock-up.

Given the CEO’s health con­di­tion, the lawyers ar­gued for an im­me­di­ate de­ci­sion on their bail pe­ti­tion.

Speak­ing at the hear­ing, U Than Htut Aung asked who would be held re­spon­si­ble in the event that his health de­te­ri­o­rates fur­ther.

“If I die in the pri­son, who will take re­spon­si­bil­ity for that, the gov­ern­ment or the ju­di­ciary?” he said.

The de­fen­dants’ coun­sel told Daw Kay Thi Hlaing that there were plenty of prece­dents for grant­ing bail in defama­tion cases, such as that of Maung Maung Nyan Win, who like the Eleven duo is fac­ing a charge un­der ar­ti­cle 66(d) of the Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Law and was bailed last week in Pyay town­ship.

The Yan­gon Re­gion gov­ern­ment has filed its suit against Eleven Me­dia Group over an ar­ti­cle pub­lished ear­lier this month un­der U Than Htut Aung’s by-line.

In it, the CEO ap­peared to sug­gest a link be­tween a time­piece worn by Yan­gon Chief Min­is­ter U Phyo Min Thein – “seen wear­ing a US$100,000 Patek Philippe watch”, the au­thor wrote – and one of the ten­der win­ners for a Yan­gon ex­pan­sion project.

“The newly elected NLD of­fi­cials’ rosy re­la­tions with cor­rupt of­fi­cials from the pre­vi­ous bu­reau­cracy are given con­cerns of the Myan­mar peo­ple … The in­di­vid­ual who al­legedly gave this ‘gift’ to the elected min­is­ter was re­cently re­leased from jail af­ter serv­ing time for his in­volve­ment in a drug case,” the ar­ti­cle con­tin­ued. “Af­ter the NLD came to power, this in­di­vid­ual’s project to build a new city re­ceived ap­proval.”

The story was pub­lished in English by the Asia News Net­work and car­ried on the web­site of the Sin­ga­pore-based Straits Times news­pa­per on Novem­ber 5. It was sub­se­quently trans­lated into Myan­mar lan­guage and pub­lished in the Daily Eleven news­pa­per.

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