Myanmar judge upholds testimony of jailed whistleblowing cop

Police Captain Moe Yan Naing waits outside the courthouse before attending the ongoing trial of two detained journalists in Yangon on April 20, 2018. Photo: AFP

The judge in the ongoing case against Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo decided today to accept the testimony of a police officer who said the arrest of the two reporters was a “trap” orchestrated by a senior police official.

Police Captain Moe Yan Naing told the court last month that his superior, Police Brigadier General Tin Ko Ko, threatened his subordinates with detention if they did not frame the reporters by handing them “secret documents” on Dec. 12, 2017. Although he was brought as a witness for the prosecution, Moe Yang Naing’s testimony corroborated the defense’s narrative.

After the testimony was given, the prosecution petitioned to have it redacted and have the police officer declared a “hostile witness.” Ruling to uphold the testimony, Insein Township judge Ye Lwin said it was consistent with Moe Yan Naing’s original police statement and was given under oath.

“It is a big step forward,” defense lawyer Khin Maung Zaw told reporters outside the courthouse. “This was the very first testimony that supported our version.”

Moe Yan Naing was one of the sources who contributed to the reporters’ investigation of the massacre of 10 Rohingya men and boys by security forces in Inn Din, Rakhine State, last September. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested before the investigation was published in February. They face a maximum of 14 years in prison if they end up being charged and convicted under Myanmar’s Official Secrets Act.

Moe Yan Naing has also been in detention since Dec. 12. Last week, he was sentenced to a year in prison for violating the Police Disciplinary Act. His family was evicted from their police dormitory in Naypyidaw the day after he first testified.

The police officer will be cross-examined by the defense team at the next hearing on May 9.