Court to hear re­porters’ ap­peal this month

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Yangon, Myan­mar - 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 on Satur­day.

Wa Lone (32) and Kyaw Soe Oo (28) were found guilty un­der a state se­crets act in Septem­ber af­ter ex­pos­ing the ex­tra­ju­di­cial killing of ten 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 con­demna- tion, in­clud­ing from US Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence.

Lawyer Than Zaw Aung said the date for the ap­peal hear­ing has been set for De­cem­ber 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 ten 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 Bangladesh’s refugee camps.

It is dif­fi­cult to say how long the ap­peal can take

Than Zaw Aung

(AFP)

This file photo shows Myan­mar jour­nal­ist Wa Lone com­ing out of a court af­ter be­ing sen­tenced to jail, in Yangon on Septem­ber 3

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