Reuters reports that a Myanmar judge today found two Reuters journalists guilty of breaching a law on state secrets and jailed them for seven years, in a landmark case seen as a test of progress towards democracy in the Southeast Asian country.
Yangon northern district judge Ye Lwin said 32 year old Wa Lone 28 year old and Kyaw Soe Oo breached the colonial-era Official Secrets Act when they collected and obtained confidential documents.
The judge said… “The defendants … have breached Official Secrets Act section 3.1.c, and are sentenced to seven years.
He added that the time served since they were detained on December 12 would be taken into account. The defense can appeal the decision to the regional court and then the supreme court.
The two reporters had pleaded not guilty and told the court police planted documents on them in the course of their work in reporting on Myanmar’s violence-plagued Rakhine State.
Press freedom advocates, the UN, the European Union and countries including the United States, Canada and Australia had called for the journalists’ acquittal.
“Today is a sad day for Myanmar, Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, and the press everywhere,” Reuters editor in chief Stephen J Adler said in a statement.
The Thaiger also describes the court decision as a serious over-step where the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. Another sad day for journalism in south east Asia.
Read more of the story from Reuters and Thai PBS HERE.
Sri Lankan death toll revised down
The Sri Lankan Health Ministry has revised down the death toll from last Sunday’s deadly terror attacks on churches and upscale hotels.
The latest official toll is now 253, down from the previous death toll, which stood at 359. In a statement, the health ministry claimed the previous death toll released by the ministry was 290, and not 359 as reported by the media.
On Tuesday a Colombo police spokesman reported that the death toll had risen to 359. But the Sri Lankan Health Ministry said in a statement…
“Some of the bodies get severely damaged in these kinds of explosions and it’s possible for some bodies to get completely destroyed, making the identification of full bodies difficult.”
A massive international criminal investigation into the attacks is ongoing, with six foreign police agencies and Interpol assisting local police, including Scotland Yard from the UK and the FBI from the US.
Bangkok-based Filipino visa service provider arrested over alleged fraud
PHOTO: (left to right) Emily Fontanilla Fabe, Ronygene Esmeralda Atregenio & Ernest Rey Basilio Salarza
The administrator of a Facebook group SWD Kapamilya Thailand (has more than 30,000 Filipino members), Ernest Rey Basilio Salarza (aka. Rhey Keen Ayala), was arrested yesterday (Tuesday) in Bangkok after the court issued an arrest warrant.
Basilio, commonly known as Rhey Keen Ayala, another SWD Kapamilya Facebook admin Emily Fontanilla and Best Care Provider owner Ronygene Esmeralda Atregenio (aka Nokie and Caroline Maxim) have also been charged with fraud under Thailand’s Computer Crimes Act.
At least nine Filipino have already been accused and arrested for posting allegedly fraudulent information to obtain funds by deception.
Many more victims are expected to file additional cases this week. The case started when Nokie of Best Care failed to provide visas and work permits to the Filipino victims. Each of them paid 33,000-38,000 baht to Best Care Provider.
16 Filipino victims have so far come out and sought help to get their money back. There were at least 30 victims who paid the same amount but never received the paperwork promised to them by Best Care.
Atregenio, aka. Nokie and Caroline Maxime are the owners of Best Care, while Salarza popularly known in social media as Rhey Keen Ayala is one of the company founders.
Meanwhile, Emily or ‘Em Fabe’ is the promoter of the company using her Facebook group SWD Kapamilya Thailand. Rhey Keen is also the administrator of Pinoy ADOBO Facebook group which is also being used to promote Best Care Provider.
A string of criminal cases under the Thai Computer Crime Act are also expected to be filed against Em Fabe and Rhey Keen for alleged libellous comments and personal attacks on Facebook against other Filipinos.
Sri Lanka attacks ‘retaliation for Christchurch’ – Government minister
The Islamist suicide bombings that killed 321 people, and injured many others in Sri Lanka at the weekend, are believed to have been carried out in revenge for last month’s attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Fifty people were shot dead on March 15 at two mosques in the South Island, New Zealand city by an avowed white nationalist.
This revelation from the state minister of defence Ruwan Wijewardene as he spoke to parliament yesterday.
The death toll from the Sunday bomb attacks on churches and up-scale hotels, mostly around the Sri Lankan capital Colombo, is now at 321 with hundreds more wounded and still in hospital.
Wijewardene says the group behind the Sri Lanka bombings was the little-known National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ), an extremist Islamist group previously blamed for defacing Buddhist statues.
Police have detained at least 40 people as they investigate the worst act of violence in the country since a civil war ended in Sri Lanka a decade ago.
More than a thousand people gathered yesterday at St Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, north of the capital, which was among those hit in the blasts, to pay tribute to the dead.
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