Myanmar judge postpones ruling against detained journalists

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Naypyidaw, Aug 27 (IANS) A Myanmar judge on Monday postponed the ruling against the two detained Reuters journalists who were probing the persecution of the ethnic Rohingya Muslim minority in Rakhine state, to September 3.

Reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who have maintained their innocence, could face a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison if they are convicted of violating Myanmar’s colonial-era law known as the Official Secrets Act, reports Efe news.

The journalists were arrested on the night of December 12, 2017, after meeting two policemen who, according to the defendants, handed them allegedly confidential documents.

Since then, both have been detained without bail and have appeared some 30 times before the court. The investigation began on January 9 and the charges were formally filed on July 9.

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In April, Police Captain Moe Yan Naing testified that a senior officer had ordered him and his subordinates to offer secret documents to Wa Lone in order to set him up.

The arrested journalists were investigating the murder of a dozen Rohingya discovered at Inn Din village in Rakhine, a massacre for which seven Myanmar Army soldiers were later sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The Inn Din incident is related to an offensive started by the Myanmar Army on August 25, 2017, which resulted in an exodus of over 700,000 Rohingyas to Bangladesh.

The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has demanded the release of the two journalists and said the freedom of press has to be respected, an appeal which the European Union, the US and several other international organisations have also joined.

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–IANS

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