Journalists Wait for Court to Drop Charges

By The Irrawaddy 4 September 2017

HSIPAW, Shan State — Three journalists facing charges of unlawful association are awaiting the judge’s decision to drop the case after the army withdrew the charges.

Hsipaw Township Court on Monday scheduled the trio’s next hearing for Sept. 15, when it requires the government’s legal official to remark that the judge drops the charges.

The Irrawaddy’s Lawi Weng, also known as U Thein Zaw, and U Aye Naing and Ko Pyae Phone Aung from the Democratic Voice of Burma were released on bail on Friday following the military’s decision to withdraw its case against them.

Press members welcomed the move but stressed they should have never been arrested for doing their job.

The journalists were arrested along with three other men by the Myanmar Army on June 26 as they returned from covering a drug-burning ceremony hosted by the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA). They were detained in Hsipaw Prison for more than two months under Article 17(1) of the Unlawful Associations Act.

One man was released on bail together with the three journalists. Another two men who had additional charges for unlicensed vehicles were granted bail on Monday, according to Lawi Weng’s lawyer Daw Khin Mi Mi.

Citing the Attorney General of the Union Law, she explained it is judicial procedure that such a lawsuit cannot be settled between plaintiffs and defendants but requires official withdrawal with the legal official’s remarks.