Court Rejects Request to Name Officer in Reuters Case a 'Hostile Witness'

By Htun Htun 2 May 2018

YANGON — A Yangon court on Wednesday rejected a request to declare a police captain a hostile witness in the case of two Reuters journalists accused of breaching the Official Secrets Act.

Police Captain Moe Yan Naing told the Northern District Court late last month that Police Brigadier-General Tin Ko Ko had instructed officers to entrap the two reporters, Ko Wa Lone and Ko Kyaw Soe Oo, by handing them classified documents and then arresting them.

The reporters were arrested in Yangon in December after accepting documents from police over a dinner the officers had invited them to and remain in custody.

Following last month’s explosive testimony, a lawyer for the plaintiff asked the court to declare the captain a hostile witness.

On Wednesday, Judge U Ye Lwin rejected the request, explaining that the captain’s testimony at a police station following the reporters’ arrest and later in court were found to be consistent.

“Plus, he is a police officer and he took an oath at the court before his testimony,” the judge said.

The decision means the captain’s testimony on April 20 cannot be thrown out.

Since his testimony, Cpt. Moe Yan Naing was sentenced to a year in prison under the Police Discipline Law for handing classified information to the reporters and referred to Insein Prison, according to police spokesman Colonel Myo Thu Soe.

Cpt. Moe Yan Naing did not appear at court last week. But Judge U Ye Lwin said on Wednesday that the captain would remain a witness in the case and that the court would summon him next week.

U Khin Maung Zaw, a lawyer for the two journalists, said Cpt. Moe Yan Naing’s testimony in the case would yield further revelations if he does remain a witness, as the judge said he would.

“We are hopeful about the case,” he said. “His testimony is quite important.”

On Monday, Col. Myo Thu Soe told The Irrawaddy that Brig-Gen.Tin Ko Ko would face no disciplinary action for allegedly masterminding the Reuters reporters’ entrapment and that the claim would not be investigated.