Bail de­nied for Eleven Me­dia de­fen­dants

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

THE Tarmwe Town­ship Court has re­jected a bail ap­pli­ca­tion from the CEO and ed­i­tor-in-chief of Eleven Me­dia Group, who are fac­ing defama­tion charges brought by the Yan­gon Re­gion gov­ern­ment.

Lawyers for CEO U Than Htut Aung and chief ed­i­tor U Wai Phyo cited health is­sues in sup­port of their Novem­ber 25 ap­pli­ca­tion for bail but were de­nied by judge Daw Kay Thi Hlaing, who said that not enough ev­i­dence in sup­port of the pair’s claims had been sub­mit­ted.

The judge found that med­i­cal records sub­mit­ted by the de­fen­dants from pri­vate hos­pi­tals did not sat­isfy the bur­den of proof re­gard­ing the as­ser­tions of health prob­lems and that doc­u­men­ta­tion from pub­licly run hos­pi­tals were nec­es­sary.

The de­fen­dants’ lawyers were also un­able to pro­vide a let­ter from the prison hospi­tal where U Than Htut Aung is be­ing held ver­i­fy­ing his pre­vi­ous state­ments in court that he had suf­fered a heart at­tack while be­hind bars on Novem­ber 23.

Coun­sel for the de­fence U Kyee Myint said he would con­tinue to push for bail for his clients through­out the trial and that he would ap­peal to higher courts if nec­es­sary.

The duo is fac­ing charges un­der ar­ti­cle 66(d) of the Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Law over an ar­ti­cle that im­plied cor­rupt deal­ings in­volv­ing Yan­gon Re­gion Chief Min­is­ter U Phyo Min Thein. The ar­ti­cle, which ap­peared un­der U Than Htut Aung’s by-line, ap­peared to sug­gest a link be­tween a time­piece worn by 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.

Ear­lier this month, Eleven Me­dia Group asked for the Myan­mar Press Coun­cil’s as­sis­tance in re­solv­ing the case with the gov­ern­ment.

So far, the of­fi­cial press over­sight body has re­mained tight-lipped about the on­go­ing negotiations.

“We want to fos­ter a warm re­la­tion­ship be­tween the gov­ern­ment and the me­dia,” said U Aung Hla Tun, vice chair of the Myan­mar Press Coun­cil.

Pros­e­cu­tion wit­nesses will be­gin to give ev­i­dence in the case on De­cem­ber 9. So far, no mem­bers of the re­gional gov­ern­ment have made an ap­pear­ance at the Eleven Me­dia Group trial.

If found guilty, the two de­fen­dants could face up to three years in prison un­der the of­ten-crit­i­cised sec­tion 66(d) of the Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Law.

Photo: Nyan Zay Htet

Eleven Me­dia Group CEO U Than Htut Aung ap­pears for a hear­ing in his defama­tion trial at Tarmwe Town­ship Court yes­ter­day.

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