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Reuters Reporters In Myanmar Appeal Conviction

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Reuters Reporters In Myanmar Appeal Conviction

Lawyers for two Reuters reporters jailed for seven years in Myanmar lodged an appeal on Monday against their conviction on charges of breaking the country’s Official Secrets Act.

The appeal cited evidence of a police set-up and lack of proof of a crime.

“We filed an appeal … because the trial court’s ruling was wrong,” said Reuters President and Editor-in-Chief, Stephen J. Adler in a statement.

“In condemning them as spies, it ignored compelling evidence of a police set-up, serious due process violations, and the prosecution’s failure to prove any of the key elements of the crime.”

He added the court shifted the burden of proof from the prosecution to the Reuters reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, and called on Myanmar to “uphold its stated dedication to rule of law, freedom of the press, and democracy by ordering the release of our colleagues.”

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Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were found guilty in September after a trial at a Yangon district court in a landmark case that has raised questions about Myanmar’s progress toward democracy and sparked an outcry from diplomats and human rights advocates.

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi said in September that the jailing of the reporters had nothing to do with freedom of expression. In comments made the week after their conviction, she said they had been sentenced for handling official secrets and “were not jailed because they were journalists”.

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Defence lawyers filed the appeal on Monday morning at the Yangon-based High Court. If the court rules to allow the appeal, an appellate judge would take written and oral arguments from prosecution and defense lawyers before handing down a decision.

Before their arrest, the reporters had been working on a Reuters investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys by security forces and local Buddhists in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state during an army crackdown that began in August last year. The operation sent more than 700,000 people fleeing to Bangladesh.

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During eight months of hearings, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo testified that two policemen they had not met before handed them papers rolled up in a newspaper during a meeting at a Yangon restaurant on Dec. 12. Almost immediately afterwards, they said, they were bundled into a car by plainclothes officers.

On Feb. 1, a police witness said under cross-examination that information in the documents had already been published in newspapers. In April, a prosecution witness testified that a senior officer had ordered subordinates to plant documents on Wa Lone to “trap” the reporter.

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Mexico: Death Toll Rises To 73 In Fuel Pipeline Explosion

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Mexico: Death Toll Rises To 73 In Fuel Pipeline Explosion

The number of people killed in the fuel pipeline explosion that happened on Saturday in Hidalgo, Mexico has risen to 73 while 74 others are severely injured.

Having spent an estimated $3 billion in 2017 in highly publicized war on fuel theft, Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador vowed on Saturday to redouble efforts in his fight against an epidemic of fuel theft that caused the explosion.

 

“We have to continue with the plan to end fuel theft,” “We will not stop. We will eradicate this.” The president said during a news conference later at the presidential palace in Mexico City.

The government’s strategy has included diverting fuel from the pipelines most heavily targeted by criminal gangs, and transporting it by truck. But the logistical changes have slowed deliveries across the country, causing shortages and long lines at service stations.

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Regional Economic Summit Lebanon Overshadowed By Divisions

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Regional Economic Summit Lebanon Overshadowed By Division

A Regional Economic Summit Lebanon is preparing to host this weekend has been overshadowed by divisions over Syria’s future and efforts to contain Iran.

Many heads of state now say they will stay away.

The Emirs of Qatar and Kuwait will not attend, Egypt is planning to send the prime minister rather than the president, while the Palestinian authority president has said he will be in New York.

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The snub seems to be a message to Iran, whose allies, including Hezbollah, hold power in Lebanon and support the Syrian government.

Iran’s allies saw the talks as an opportunity to bring Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad back into the Arab fold.  They were hoping an Arab league foreign minister-level meeting before the summit would provide a chance to hold a vote on Syria’s reinstatement to the regional body.

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The Arab league suspended Syria’s membership in 2011 and imposed economic sanctions over its violent crackdown on anti-government protesters before the country descended into civil war. Some countries withdrew their ambassadors.

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Colombia: 11 Killed, 65 Injured In A Car Bomb

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Colombia: 11 Killed, 65 Injured In A Car Bomb

Colombian officials say 11 persons were killed and 65 others were injured after a car bomb detonated in the capital Bogota.

A high-ranking police official disclosed that the explosion appeared to be the result of a suicide attack.

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Police said the driver rammed the vehicle into the grounds of a police academy at full speed and ignored calls to stop.  The driver is presumed to have died in the blast, but it is unclear if authorities are counting the attacker in the death toll.

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President Ivan Du-Kay has condemned the attack as terrorism and vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice.  He has also declared a three-day mourning period.

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