Detained Police Captain Moe Yan Naing (C) escorted by police arrives for a court hearing in Yangon, Myanmar May 9, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer
By Shoon Naing and Thu Thu Aung
YANGON (Reuters) – A Myanmar policeman now serving a prison sentence gave more details to a court on Wednesday about how he says two Reuters reporters were framed by police, in what has become a landmark press freedom case for the Southeast Asian nation.
Police captain Moe Yan Naing, 47, who since his original testimony on April 20 has been sentenced to a year in jail for violating police discipline, gave a blow-by-blow account of how he says a police chief ordered subordinates to give “secret” documents to Reuters reporter Wa Lone in a sting operation.
“I gave the testimony as I know and as I saw,” Moe Yan Naing told reporters after the hearing. He said he did not regret giving his testimony.
Lead prosecutor Kyaw Min Aung did not respond to a request for comment after the hearing.
Myanmar government spokesman Zaw Htay said: “It will be carried out according to the law. The court is free, impartial, independent and reliable. We guarantee that the defendants will have their own rights, which means choosing their own lawyers etc.”
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.
At the time of their arrest in December, 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 an army crackdown that United Nations agencies say sent nearly 700,000 people fleeing to Bangladesh.
In an account that closely followed his original testimony, but went into greater detail, Moe Yan Naing said that on Dec. 12 – hours before the reporters were arrested – he was among six officers who had previously been contacted by Wa Lone who were interrogated by the Police Special Branch.
The internal investigation was led by Police Brigadier General Tin Ko Ko, according to Moe Yan Naing.