Journos mark six months in detention | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 14, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:25 AM, June 14, 2018

ROHINGYA REPORT

Journos mark six months in detention

A Myanmar police investigator failed to show up at court on Tuesday to testify as a prosecution witness against two Reuters reporters who were arrested in December and accused of possessing secret government papers.

Police Captain Myo Lwin, one of the officers who escorted the two journalists to the courthouse, said the key police witness Major Tin Win Maung was not present because the officer was "investigating two cases" in central Myanmar.

The police major is one of the senior officers involved in the inquiry into the journalists after they were arrested on Dec 12. They have now spent six months in detention.

"Six months is too long, but we are not depressed ... They can't destroy us," reporter Wa Lone told reporters after the proceedings were swiftly adjourned. "I will always be a journalist."

In what has become a landmark press freedom case, the court in Yangon has been holding hearings since January to decide whether Wa Lone, 32, and his Reuters colleague Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, will be charged under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

Judge Ye Lwin adjourned the hearing until Monday, when he again summoned Major Tin Win Maung to appear.

Lead prosecutor Kyaw Min Aung declined to comment after Tuesday's proceedings.

At the time of their arrest, the reporters had been working on an investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys in a village in western Myanmar's Rakhine state. The killings took place during a military crackdown that United Nations agencies say sent nearly 700,000 people fleeing to Bangladesh.

The reporters have told relatives they were arrested almost immediately after being handed some rolled up papers at a restaurant in northern Yangon by two policemen they had not met before, having been invited to meet the officers for dinner.

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