Judge Rejects Evidence in Myanmar Now Editor's Defamation Case

By Lawi Weng 27 February 2018

YANGON — A lawyer for Myanmar Now editor Swe Win said he would ask a court in Mandalay to take action against the person suing his client for defamation, claiming the plaintiff had presented “false evidence” in the case.

Swe Win made his 19th court appearance in Mandalay on Monday, accused of defaming ultranationalist monk U Wirathu by sharing a Facebook post critical of the monk’s support for Kyi Win, who is on trial for fatally shooting prominent Muslim lawyer U Ko Ni in January 2017. The case was filed by Kyaw Myo Shwe following a complaint from an U Wirathu supporter.

After yesterday’s hearing at the Mandalay Maha Aung Myay Township Court, Swe Win’s lawyer, U Khin Maung Myint, said Kyaw Myo Shwe could not show the court that two printouts of photos presented as evidence in the defamation case were taken with his phone’s camera, as the plaintiff has claimed. U Khin Maung Myint said one photo was of a Frontier Myanmar article in which Swe Win comments on U Wirathu and that the other was of a photo of Swe Win that ran with the text.

“The judge at the court asked him [Kyaw Myo Shwe] to turn on his phone and show that he took the evidence with his phone. But he could not show that the two items of evidence were taken with his phone,” the defense lawyer said.

He said Kyaw Myo Shwe asked the judge for permission to check his other phone for the photos. But U Khin Maung Myint said he objected — because Kyaw Myo Shwe may have transferred the photos to his other phone from someone else’s phone after the case had been filed — and that the judge subsequently rejected the two printouts as evidence.

Swe Win and his team claim that Kyaw Myo Shwe never took the photos he claims he did.

“We, including Ko Swe Win, will discussed how to take action soon. We will ask the court to take action against the plaintiff at the next hearing,” said U Khin Maung Myint.

“He just tried to punish Ko Swe Win, but he did not have his own evidence and took it from others.”

The Penal Code allows a court to take action against a plaintiff over false evidence at the request of the defense.

The court did accept evidence from Kyaw Myo Shwe at a hearing earlier this month, including paper records and a recording of a Radio Free Asia broadcast of a press conference Swe Win gave about U Wirathu. It accepted the recording of the broadcast over objections from U Khin Maung Myint, who argued that it had been edited to take his client’s remarks out of context.

Kyaw Myo Shwe is currently serving a prison sentence in an unrelated case. His lawyer could not be reached for comment.