Myanmar cop who exposed plot to ‘trap’ reporters gets prison sentence

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
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

A police officer who exposed his colleagues’ plot to trap two Reuters reporters has been sentenced to prison for violating Myanmar’s Police Disciplinary Act, Reuters reported yesterday. However, the police spokesman who confirmed the sentencing did not disclose the length of the sentence.

On April 20, Captain Moe Yan Naing testified at a hearing in the case of reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo that a senior police officer had ordered his staff to “trap” the reporters in December by handing them “secret documents.” His testimony came as a surprise to those following the case since he was brought in as a witness for the prosecution.

He also testified that day that he had been in detention since Dec. 12, the same day the two reporters were trapped and arrested, for having given Wa Lone an interview about his involvement in the massacre of 10 Rohingya men and boys in northern Rakhine State in early Sept. 2017. He said he had been charged under sections 16(B) and 22 of the Police Disciplinary Act, which forbid disobeying orders and miscellaneous actions that disrupt police order, respectively. Each carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison.

Seven Myanmar soldiers were sentenced to 10 years in prison this month over the massacre, though rumors alleging that they have been released have circulated.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have been attending pre-trial hearings in Yangon’s Insein Township since January as a judge decides whether to charge them under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum 14-year prison term.

The day after his testimony, Moe Yan Naing’s wife and two daughters were evicted from their Naypyidaw home, which was in a police housing complex. His wife, Tu Tu, has publicly pleaded for help from President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. They have since told Reuters that they were not notified by the authorities about Moe Yan Naing’s sentencing and that they have not been able to see him since Dec. 12.

On Wednesday, Judge Ye Lwin, who is presiding over the case of the two Reuters reporters, will decide whether Moe Yan Naing’s testimony about the police setup is admissible.

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