Myanmar says court in Reuters reporters' case was independent

  • World
  • Friday, 07 Sep 2018

Detained Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo leave Insein court after listening to the verdict in Yangon, Myanmar September 3, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar's government spokesman said on Friday a court that convicted two Reuters journalists under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act was independent and followed due process, after international calls for the pair to be released.

A judge on Monday found Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, guilty of breaching the law on state secrets and sentenced them to seven years in prison. The verdict was criticised by senior United Nations officials and governments including the United States, Britain and Bangladesh, as well as press freedom advocates in Myanmar and around the world.

"The Reuters case is the decision of the court and the court is independent," spokesman Zaw Htay told a news conference in the capital Naypyitaw, in the government's first public comments on the case since the verdict. He said he would not comment further to avoid committing contempt of court.

The journalists, who pleaded not guilty, were investigating the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim villagers by the Myanmar security forces at the time of their arrest in December.

A crackdown by Myanmar soldiers and police in response to militant attacks last year drove about 700,000 Rohingya to flee western Myanmar for Bangladesh, according to U.N. agencies.

Zaw Htay said the government had not sought to influence the court, despite international pressure over the Rohingya crackdown, including a U.N. Security Council meeting on Myanmar in the week before the verdict.

"It means the court does not know about anything else and it continued to do its own process," he said. "This (the verdict) happened and now we have more pressure. But this is proof that we have nothing to do with the court."

On Thursday, the International Criminal Court ruled it had jurisdiction over Myanmar's alleged deportation of Rohingya, paving the way for the court's prosecutor to further examine whether there is sufficient evidence to file charges.

Zaw Htay declined to comment in detail on that ruling, but said the government would release a statement later responding to the decision.

Myanmar has previously said it was not subject to the court's rulings since the country is not a signatory to the Rome Statute that established the ICC. The court found it had jurisdiction because part of the alleged act of deportation took place in Bangladesh, which is an ICC member state.

(Reporting by Shoon Naing and Simon Lewis; Editing by Alex Richardson)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 1
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3

Next In World

Dutch tourists trade lockdown at home for confinement in Greek resort
Taiwan reports largest incursion yet by Chinese air force
Britain's Prince William says: 'I will miss my grandpa'
One person shot dead in front of Paris hospital - police source
UK opens investigation into lobbying and role of former PM Cameron
UK, EU talks on Northern Ireland are constructive, differences remain, says UK PM's spokesman
German Catholics chafe against Vatican's same-sex marriage ruling
Seven Catholic clergy, including two French citizens, kidnapped in Haiti
Syrian air force may have dropped chlorine bomb on town in rebel area in 2018 - chemical arms watchdog
Swiss government urges voters to back COVID-19 law that foes want to ditch

Stories You'll Enjoy