The lawyer for Myitkyina Journal reporters asked the court to exclude a witness during the trial against Tha Khin Sit Mining and Import and Export Company currently underway at Waingmaw Township Court in Burma’s Kachin State.
Tin Tun Thein, lawyer for the plaintiff, says the court should pull the witness, who is a police officer, from the trial because he excluded important evidence relevant to the case.
“We applied to the court not to accept the new witness, but it was rejected,” says Tin Tun Thein, explaining the plaintiffs’ case would suffer because of the police officer’s negligence.
“We’ll try again and again until the end, and discuss whether to appeal the decision in the higher court.”
Tin Tun Thein told KNG that the plaintiffs had provided important evidence to the police but that it had been disregarded.
Dissatisfied with an article in the Myitkyina Journal, Ting Sau, the director of Thakhin Sit, invited the two reporters responsible for the article to chat at the company’s office on February 26 last year. But after reporters arrived, a company employee shouted at senior reporter Ma Mun Mun, slapping her in the face with a copy of the Myitkyina Journal. Junior reporter Ko Ahjay was forced to do thousands of sit-ups.
The Myitkyina News Journal reported on a road construction project by Thakhin-Sit in an article on a Chinese tissue culture banana plantation in Waing Maw Township. Residents accuse the operator of the banana plantation in Man Dawng village-tract of land grabbing and damaging the environment.
The media outlet sued Thakhin Sit for assault. The mining company filed a defamation suit against Myitkyina Journal under article 500, which carries a penalty of up to two years’ imprisonment or a fine or both.
During a court hearing on June 15, more than a year after the incident, Ma Mun Mun Pan told KNG that the police officer claimed she had not provided him with the evidence. “We actually gave him all the evidence that day, including audio recordings and a torn shirt, but the officers wouldn’t take them. They said once they received an official warrant they will collect the items.”
In early March, Ma Mun Mun Pan said they went to the police station to give them the evidence, and this time they accepted.
On July 13, after the officer claimed he didn’t get the evidence, they applied for the witness’s removal. But it was rejected by the court.