Myan­mar court to hear Reuters re­porters ap­peal this month

The Borneo Post (Sabah) - - WORLD -

YAN­GON: A Myan­mar court will hear the ap­peal later this month of two Reuters jour­nal­ists jailed for their re­port­ing on the Ro­hingya cri­sis, a lawyer said yes­ter­day.

Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were found guilty un­der a state se­crets act in Septem­ber af­ter ex­pos­ing the ex­tra­ju­di­cial killing of 10 Ro­hingya men dur­ing a bru­tal mil­i­tary crack­down in Myan­mar’s west­ern Rakhine state last year.

The pair – who have been held be­hind bars for nearly a year since their ar­rest last De­cem­ber – were sen­tenced to seven years in jail, a ver­dict that drew wide­spread con­dem­na­tion, in­clud­ing from US vice-pres­i­dent Mike Pence.

Lawyer Than Zaw Aung told AFP the date for the ap­peal hear­ing has been set for Dec 24 at the Yan­gon re­gional court.

“It is dif­fi­cult to say how long the ap­peal can take,” he said, es­ti­mat­ing that it would run for “at least two weeks”, but could stretch to months.

“We are hop­ing for their un­con­di­tional re­lease.”

The re­porters will re­main in prison dur­ing the ap­peal process.

The pair were in­ves­ti­gat­ing the mas­sacre of 10 Ro­hingya men by se­cu­rity forces in Inn Din vil­lage, an atroc­ity that the mil­i­tary later ad­mit­ted in a rare ac­knowl­edge­ment of wrong­do­ing.

And as the much-crit­i­cised trial was be­ing held, one whistle­blow­ing po­lice of­fi­cer told the court how a su­pe­rior had or­dered his men to set up a sting to en­trap the re­porters – tes­ti­mony the judge chose to ig­nore.

Myan­mar’s civil­ian leader Aung San Suu Kyi has re­mained de­fi­ant in the face of crit­i­cism and in­sisted the case up­held the rule of law – fur­ther tar­nish­ing her im­age as a democ­racy icon af­ter her si­lence over the mil­i­tary’s ac­tions against the Ro­hingya Mus­lims.

UN in­ves­ti­ga­tors have called for se­nior mil­i­tary gen­er­als to be pros­e­cuted for geno­cide over their han­dling of the Ro­hingya cri­sis, in which more than 720,000 peo­ple were forcibly ex­pelled to neigh­bour­ing Bangladesh’s refugee camps. — AFP

De­tained Wa Lone (photo left) is seen walk­ing with his wife Pen ei mon and Kyaw Soe Oo (photo right, cen­tre) as they ar­rive at In­sein Court in Yan­gon, Myan­mar. — Reuters pho­tos

Bel­gium’s Africa Mu­seum is seen be­fore its re­open­ing to the pub­lic.

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