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Dunkley shows up for court hearing; prosecution fails to appear

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The prosecutor in the case against the Australian cofounder of the Myanmar Times newspaper failed to appear for a scheduled hearing in the Kamayut Township Court in Rangoon on Monday, and the judge scheduled another hearing for April 27.

Australian journalist Ross Dunkley (with glasses), the founder and co-owner of the Myanmar Times, at his first court hearing on February 24, 2011. He appeared for a hearing on Monday, April 11, but the prosecution failed to show up. He has been charged with immigration violations and criminal assault. Photo: MizzimaThe state prosecutor, Khaing Zar, and an Immigration Department official who was scheduled to testify for the prosecution did not appear in the court.

“We attended the hearing at around 12 a.m.’, said Wai Lin, a spokesman of the Myanmar Times. ‘We saw the judges.’ He said they set  another hearing for 10:30 a.m. on April 27.

Dunkley is charged under the Emergency Immigration Act, in addition to criminal charges of assaulting a woman, giving her drugs and holding her against her will.

Prior to his release on bail late last month he was held in the infamous Insein Prison in Rangoon. The judge cited a heart condition as a factor in granting bail. Dunkley resumed work as the English editor of the newspaper after his release.
The case against Dunkley, who is also the publisher of the The Phnom Penh Post, has attracted worldwide interest in the media community.

His business associates in Cambodia said in an earlier statement that the alleged female victim testified in a previous hearing that she wished to withdraw her complaint that alleged she had been drugged and held against her will by Dunkley but the Burmese authorities would not allow the complaint to be withdrawn.

Originally from Perth, Australia, Dunkley was the first foreigner to enter the Burmese domestic newspaper market in 2000 when he joined forces with Sonny Shwe, the son of a close ally of then military intelligence chief and junta prime minister, Khin Nyunt. Less than a year after Khin Nyunt’s purging from the military junta, Sonny Shwe was arrested and new Burmese co-owners took over his stake in the paper.

Rangoon media observers said that Dunkley and the Myanmar Times’ new CEO, Dr. Tin Tun Oo, were involved in a business dispute at the time of his arrest. Tin Tun Oo was named the new CEO four days after Dunkley’s arrest. Dunkley retains a 49 percent ownership in the English-language newspaper.

Last Updated ( Monday, 11 April 2011 20:04 )  

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