Wife Of ‘Scapegoat’ Police Officer in Reuters Trial Appeals for Help

By The Irrawaddy 23 April 2018

NAYPYITAW & MANDALAY — The wife of a police officer who told a court that police had entrapped two Reuters reporters said her husband was a “scapegoat” and appealed for help from President Win Myint and State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

During a press conference in Mandalay on Sunday, Daw Tu called for justice for her husband, Police Captain Moe Yan Naing, saying her husband was “innocent.”

As a prosecution witness, the police officer testified on Friday that the police had set up Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, while providing details about the Dec. 12 arrest.

Moe Yan Naing also revealed that the “trap” was masterminded by Police Brig-Gen Tin Ko Ko.

The police captain has been detained since December last year for his interaction with the reporters, who were working on a Reuters investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys in a village in Rakhine state. The reporters were arrested under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

“My husband didn’t give any documents to them (Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo). Brig-Gen Tin Ko Ko scapegoated my husband,” Daw Tu Tu told the reporters in Mandalay on Sunday. “He is innocent.”

Following the police captain’s testimony, authorities on Saturday ordered the family to move out of a police housing complex where Daw Tu and one of their young daughters were living.

“I don’t know where to go now,” Daw Tu told an Irrawaddy reporter on Saturday after she received the eviction notice.

The eviction order went viral online, generating an angry reaction and public condemnation of the police action. Police spokesman Myo Thu Soe told the media on the same day that the family had to leave as they had overstayed their tenancy since March. But he didn’t explain why the eviction was enforced right after Moe Yang Naing’s testimony on Friday.

On Sunday, the unemployed woman told the media that her family has had to rely on relatives to survive as her husband hasn’t received his salary since being detained.

“We haven’t got his salary for four months. His salary is the only income we have to live on,” she said. The couple has three children; the eldest is a university student.

After Moe Yan Naing’s revelation of a police set-up and the alleged involvement of Brig-Gen Tin Ko Ko during the court hearing on Friday, the plaintiff’s lawyer submitted a motion seeking to have the police captain declared a ‘hostile witness.’

The court will decide whether to accept the motion on Wednesday.

For now, Daw Tu said all could she do was appeal to the country’s top political leadership for help.

“Mr. President, State Counselor, please don’t let us down. We are helpless,” she said on Sunday.

The Irrawaddy reporters Htet Naing Zaw contributed to this report from Naypyitaw and photojournalist Zaw Zaw from Mandalay.