YANGON: Prosecutors and defence lawyers will present arguments on Monday whether two Reuters reporters accused of obtaining secret documents in Myanmar should be charged, after the six-month pre-trial phase of the landmark case ended last month.
After hearing the arguments, the court in Yangon will rule on whether Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, will be charged under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.
The decision is likely later in July, legal experts say.
The pre-trial hearings, which began in January, finished last month. The two reporters have been denied bail and have been held in Yangon’s Insein jail since being arrested in December.
Defence lawyers Khin Maung Zaw and Than Zaw Aung filed a petition in April asking district judge Ye Lwin to dismiss the case, arguing there was insufficient evidence to support charges of obtaining secret government papers. The judge rejected the motion.
Throughout, the defence has said the prosecution has failed to establish how the alleged documents had come into the reporters’ possession.
“In the law, in the Official Secrets Act, it is said that these documents, those official secret documents, must be obtained,” Khin Maung Zaw said in a June 18 hearing. “They cannot prove that they were obtained.”
The defence has also said prosecution failed to show how the reporters posed a threat to national security or name the “enemy” they were allegedly aiming to support. In addition, they have argued that the information included in the documents had already been made public and therefore was not secret.
During previous hearings, one of the police witnesses told the court he had burned his notes made at the time of the arrests. A civilian witness had the location where police say the arrests was made – which emerged as a key point of contention during the proceedings – written on his hand.
Lead prosecutor Kyaw…
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