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Prosecutor asks court to withdraw criminal charges against Dunkley

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The Australian cofounder of the Myanmar Times is likely to face only a charge of violating the Immigration Act, after the Burmese prosecutor asked the Kamayut Township Court in Rangoon to drop all criminal charges on Thursday.

Australian cofounder of the Myanmar Times, Ross Dunkley, the Australian consul and Dunkley’s lawyer Aung Than Soe, left to right,  in front of the Kamayut Township Court in Rangoon. Photo : MizzimaAt the hearing, the plaintiff said that she wished to withdraw her complaint because she could not recall what happened. She told the court that she had not been coerced to withdraw her complaint. The judge accepted her statement and scheduled another hearing for May 24.

In the statement, she said that the she had just informed the police of the incident and did not want to prosecute Dunkley. Earlier, she tried to withdraw her statement during previous hearngs but the court did not allow it.

At the hearing, Dunkley’s lawyer Aung Than Soe asked the plaintiff if it was true that on the way to Dunkley’s house on the day of the alleged assault, she had accidently hit the roof of the car and was injured. She testified that she could not recall what happened on that day because she was intoxicated.

Dr. Tin Tun Oo, the chief executive officer of the Myanmar Times, an Australian consul, some employees from the newspaper and local and foreign journalists attended the hearing.

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

Prior to his release on bail late last month, Dunkley 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.

Originally from Perth, Australia, Dunkley was the first foreigner in recent times 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.

Dunkley holds 49 percent ownership in the English-language newspaper.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 12 May 2011 21:18 )  

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