Police officer admits to ‘trap’ in Reuters arrest case

By SU MYAT MON | FRONTIER 

YANGON – A police officer testified in court today that two jailed Reuters journalists were “set up” by police, contradicting official statements about the circumstances surrounding their December arrest.

Speaking in Insein Township Court as a witness for the prosecution, Police Captain Moe Yan Naing said that he had been threatened with arrest if he did not participate in the plot to entrap Ko Wa Lone and Ko Kyaw Soe Oo at a Yangon restaurant on December 12 last year.

Moe Yan Naing said that the orders to trap the pair were given by Police Brigadier General Tin Ko Ko. 

Defence lawyer U Than Zaw Aung said Moe Yan Naing was one of two police officers arrested in December for allegedly giving confidential documents to Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.

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The journalists received the documents after being invited to meet the police officers at a restaurant on the outskirts of Yangon. The prosecution says police arrested them during a random search some distance from the restaurant, but the journalists say they were apprehended as soon as they left the venue.

“This is the pathway towards truth,” Than Zaw Aung told Frontier by phone on Friday. “Actually, we have got the documents to show the trap, but we are waiting for the right time to show them.”

Than Zaw Aung said Moe Yan Naing had not been allowed access to his family members since his arrest. The other officer arrested with him, who has not yet testified, was named as Police Corporal Khin Maung Lin. 

A video filmed by The Irrawaddy and shared online on Friday showed Moe Yan Naing answering questions from journalists in a teashop outside the courtroom after the hearing. Surrounded by reporters as he sipped on an energy drink, he was asked if the claims he made in court about the arrests being a setup were true. 

“Yes, that’s correct,” he said.

The video then shows a man in civilian clothing dragging Moe Yan Naing back towards the courthouse. As he is pulled away, Moe Yan Naing says, “The police must have dignity”.

The journalists were arrested while investigating the killing of 10 Muslim men at Inn Din village in northern Rakhine State’s Maungdaw Township in September. 

The killings, documented in a gruesome account published by Reuters in February, took place during a brutal army operation in northern Rakhine, which led to an estimated 700,000 people – overwhelmingly Rohingya – fleeing across the border into Bangladesh. 

Shortly after Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested the military admitted its soldiers had been involved in the killings.

As he left court on Friday, Wa Lone said, “The truth has emerged”.

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