Court to Decide on ‘Hostile Witness’ Status in Reuters Case

By Zarni Mann 25 April 2018

MANDALAY — A Yangon court will decide next week whether to label Police Captain Moe Yan Naing a “hostile witness” in the ongoing trial of two Reuters reporters.

As a prosecution witness, Moe Yan Naing admitted to the court on April 20 that Police Brigadier-General Tin Ko Ko ordered police officers to entrap the reporters – Ko Wa Lone and Ko Kyaw Soe Oo – by handing them confidential government documents and then arresting them.

Following the court hearing last week, the plaintiff’s lawyer submitted a motion to label the police captain as a hostile witness.

The court will make a decision at next week’s hearing on May 2.

According to the lawyers, the plaintiff lawyer’s motion to the court included that Cpt. Moe Yan Naing might be fed up after more than 120 days in detention and that he might have a grudge against Brig-Gen Tin Ko Ko based on his previous testimony.

Reporter Ko Wa Lone said he believed the court would make a fair ruling for the police captain and that he felt sorry for Moe Yan Naing’s family, who has been unable to visit him throughout his detention.

Moe Yan Naing was one of two police officers arrested in December last year for allegedly giving documents to reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.

The journalists were invited to meet police officers at a restaurant in Yangon and arrested shortly after when the documents were found in a “random” search.

The day after Police Cpt. Moe Yan Naing’s testimony regarding the set up, his family was forced to move out of police housing.

He is facing a minimum one-year imprisonment and dismissal from his position.

Reuters reporters Ko Wa Lone and Ko Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested on Dec. 12. They were accused of possessing confidential government papers and have been charged under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act. They are facing a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison for the alleged crime.

 The Irrawaddy reporter Tun Tun contributed to this story.