Reuters reporters case: Myanmar concludes six-month pre-trial hearing

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Nay Pyi Taw, July 2 (IANS) A Myanmar court on Monday concluded the pre-trial hearing in the case of two Reuters reporters accused of violating the Official Secrets Act while investigating the killing of 10 Rohingyas in Rakhine state.

Prosecutors and defence lawyers presented their arguments before the judge, who will decide on July 9 whether the reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, should be charged, Efe news reported.

After the conclusion of hearings that began in January, the detainees left the court handcuffed and surrounded by police before returning to prison, the report said.

The violation of the colonial-era Official Secrets Act carries a prison sentence of up to 14 years.

The reporters were detained on December 12, 2017 after meeting two police officers who they say gave them some documents.

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The reporters were investigating the deaths of some 10 Rohingyas whose bodies were discovered in a mass grave in the village of Inn Din, for which seven Myanmar soldiers were later sentenced to 10 years in jail with hard labour.

The killings took place during a Myanmar military crackdown following an attack by Rohingya rebels who targeted security forces outposts in Rakhine state on August 25, 2017. This led to more than 700,000 members of the Rohingya community fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh.

Senior representatives of the UN described the military campaign against the Rohingyas as “ethnic cleansing” with “signs of genocide”.

The Myanmar government denies all allegations and justifies the military campaign as a legitimate response to terror.

Myanmar considers the Rohingyas illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and subjects them to various restrictions, including limiting their freedom of movement.

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–IANS

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