Myanmar court rejects jailed Reuters reporters' appeal

Myanmar court rejects jailed Reuters reporters' appeal

Myanmar court rejects jailed Reuters reporters' appeal

An apex court of Myanmar has rejected an appeal on Friday, by two Reuters journalist jailed for seven years convicted of breaking a state secrets act in September.

Ko Wa Lone, 32, and Ko Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were sentenced last September after allegedly being set up by a Myanmar police chief in December 2017.

In this combination file image made from two photos, Reuters journalists Kyaw Soe Oo, left, and Wa Lone, are handcuffed as they are escorted by police out of the court in Yangon, Myanmar, Sept. 3, 2018.

The trial of the pair was widely criticised, with human rights groups and global governments accusing the Myanmar regime of using the courts to target the two reporters for their reporting on the military-led massacre of Rohingya muslims in the village of Inn Din in Rahkine.

"We hope for freedom for them", Than Zaw Aung, a lawyer for the journalists, told AFP Thursday, adding that the pair will not be present in court. Judge Aung Naing said in his ruling that lawyers for the men failed to submit enough evidence to prove their innocence.

The defence has the option of making a further appeal to the country's Supreme Court, based in the capital, Naypyitaw.

The journalists were working on an investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys in a village in the state.

The journalists can now appeal their case to Myanmar's Supreme Court.

The reporters' wives cried after the decision, which condemns the pair to continue their incarceration at Yangon's notorious Insein prison, where they have been held for the last 13 months.

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The two men have insisted they were the victims of a police set-up, pointing to testimony from a serving officer who said superior ordered others to entrap them. "I believe the two will be freed", she said.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo had each been handed prison sentences of seven years in June after they were found guilty of breaching the country's Official Secrets Act after it was claimed they were in possession of classified documents.

But they have gained little sympathy within Myanmar.

United Nations investigators have called for top generals to be investigated for genocide and singled out civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi for criticism for failing to stop the crackdown.

The violent military campaign in 2017 forced more than 7,20,000 Rohingya travel across the border to Bangladesh, with refugees bringing their stories of murder, rape and arson.

"Journalists who would dare to investigate the matter, like Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo did, now know the price they would pay".

Win Myint, the current president, is viewed, however, as a loyalist to Aung San Suu Kyi.

Standing outside the court building in Yangon where the judgment was pronounced, Kristian Schmidt, the European Union ambassador to Myanmar, said the ruling was a "miscarriage of justice and it gives us great concern for the independence of the justice system of Myanmar".

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