Friday, September 22, 2017

Two journals facing contempt charges

The first hearing in a contempt of court case involving U Nyan Win and two publications will be held next week, the National League for Democracy spokesperson said.

U Nyan Win applied to press charges against the owners of both Messenger and Pyi Myanmar under section 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act 1926 after they published an opinion piece that called for him to be punished for allegedly making false allegations of electoral fraud.

The first hearing in the case will be held starting on October 29 in Mandalay Region Court, U Nyan Win said.

U Nyan Win is facing charges of making false allegations of electoral fraud during the April by-elections.

An article published in both publications, by a columnist named Ko Upaday, criticised U Nyan Win and said he should be punished for the alleged infraction.

Upaday means law in the Myanmar language and the identity of the real author is not publicly known.

In a recent interview with Messenger, U Nyan Win said he had “no argument with the journals” and was only taking action because he objected to the publication of the specific article.

“The columnist wrote that I should be punished but the case is still being held so has no right to write like this before the court has made a decision,” U Nyan Win told The Myanmar Times last week.

He said he was pressing charges as an individual and the case was not connected to the NLD.

He said the owner of Pyi Myanmar, Dr Tin Tun Oo, who is also a part-owner of The Myanmar Times, told him the article had been published on the instructions of the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division.

“If it is true, they can tell it to the judge in the court,” U Nyan Win said.

At a press conference at NLD headquarters on October 8, Mawkyun Soe Myint, a consultant editor at Pyi Myanmar, also said the article was published at the request of PSRD.

Staff at Pyi Myanmar refused to comment last week and Dr Tin Tun Oo could not be reached for comment despite repeated attempts.

Messenger is owned by U Zaw Min Aye, the son of Union Election Commission chairman U Tin Aye.

Ko Aung Paw Tun, the editor of Messenger, said the journal was still waiting for an official notification from the Mandalay Region Court about the hearing.

“If the court decides this case will go ahead we are ready,” he said. “The first hearing will start on October 29 but we still do not have any notice from the court about it.

“We will take all responsibility for news and articles published in oiur journal because we value ethics in journalism,” he said, adding that the article in question had been contributed by an “outsider”.