Friday, 4 March 2011

Jailed publisher seeks bail

Photo by: Reuters
Ross Dunkley, CEO and editor of the Myanmar Times and publisher of  The Phnom Penh Post, sips a drink as he waits in a detention centre before hearing charges against him at the Kamaryut township court in central Yangon torday.

via CAAI

Thursday, 03 March 2011 22:07 Philip Bader

Ross Dunkley, publisher of The Phnom Penh Post, appeared for a second time in Kamaryut Township court in Yangon today on charges of violating Myanmar’s immigration and criminal codes.

Authorities have charged Dunkley, 53, also a stakeholder in the weekly Myanmar Times, with violating the country’s immigration law, said David Armstrong, chairman of Post Media Ltd, in a statement.

The charges stem from a criminal complaint filed by a Burmese woman.

The court heard testimony from six prosecution witnesses, but Armstrong said evidence given contradicted the woman’s previous statements.

He added that she had sought unsuccessfully to have her complaint withdrawn.

Dunkley was arrested on February 10 and has been detained in Yangon’s Insein prison.

Under Myanmar immigration law, any criminal offense also constitutes a visa violation.

“Dunkley’s lawyers have applied for bail on the basis of the weakness of the criminal case and on the grounds that police filed the charge under the immigration law even though no court had found him guilty of an offence,” Armstrong said.

He said the defence and prosecution will file requests on the question of bail, which will be considered when the court reconvenes on March 8.

At the time of Dunkley’s arrest, Armstrong linked his detention to what he called a struggle between Dunkley and Tin Htun Oo, the Burmese majority stakeholder in Myanmar Consolidated Media, which publishes the Times, over the paper’s ownership.

Dunkley has been replaced as CEO and editor in chief of the Times by MCM investor Bill Clough, also a financial shareholder in Post Media Ltd.

Armstrong said today, however, that Tin Htun Oo had agreed to provide bail for Dunkley if the court allows.

Tin Htun Oo confirmed this in an interview with Radio Australia outside the courthouse today. “If they give a chance to get the bail, I will pay.”

Tin Htun Oo further downplayed rumours of internecine strife within the Myanmar Times, telling Radio Australia that the trial was not motivated by business.

“There’s no ... problem, no business problem because he is my comrade, he is my colleague,” he said.

Min Sein, a lawyer for the defence, told the exile media group The Irrawaddy earlier this week that Dunkley faced two charges under two sections of Myanmar law.

“One is Immigration Act 13/1 and the other is Criminal Act 328. The first entails a violation of Burma’s immigration laws; the other involves hurting someone, feeding a drug-mixed drink to someone, and harassing a woman’s dignity,” he said.

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