YANGON: A Myanmar judge dismissed an appeal Friday by two Reuters journalists jailed for seven years while investigating atrocities committed against the Rohingya, dashing slim hopes that the pair could be freed early.
Reporters Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were arrested in Yangon in December 2017 and later jailed for violating the state secrets act, a charge Reuters said was trumped up to muzzle their reporting.
Prosecutors say the two had classified information regarding security operations in Rakhine state, from where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims fled during an army-led crackdown the United Nations has dubbed “ethnic cleansing”.
Aung Naing, a judge at the Yangon Regional High Court, said Friday the original verdict was “not wrong according to the law” and was a “reasonable decision”.
“The court decides to dismiss the appeal,” he said.
Lawyers can now appeal to the Supreme Court in Myanmar, a process that could take an estimated six months.
The reporters’ wives cried after the decision which condemns the pair to continue their stay at Yangon’s notorious Insein prison, where they have been held for the last 13 months.
The two men — who were not present for the decision — have insisted they were victims of a police set-up, pointing to testimony from a serving officer who said a superior ordered others to entrap them.
At the time of the arrest they were probing a massacre of 10 Rohingya.
The original trial was widely regarded as a sham and seen as punishment for their investigation, sparking outrage around the world including from US Vice President Mike Pence.
Outside the country, the two men have been hailed as media freedom heroes and jointly named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year 2018, alongside other persecuted and slain journalists.
Trumps delays speech until government shutdown ends
WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump backed down late Wednesday in a spat with Democrats over his State of the Union address, agreeing to delay it until a government shutdown ends, although the more than month-long impasse dragged on.
The US Senate prepared meanwhile Thursday to hold two showdown votes on measures to reopen the shuttered federal agencies, but Trump’s toxic sparring with House speaker Nancy Pelosi essentially assured no solution was at hand.
An intensifying war of words between the president and Pelosi came to a head Wednesday with the top Democrat effectively blocking Trump from delivering his annual address in Congress until the partial government shutdown, now in its 34th day, is brought to an end.
But in a tweet sent after 11:00 pm, Trump wrote, “As the Shutdown was going on, Nancy Pelosi asked me to give the State of the Union Address. I agreed.”
“She then changed her mind because of the Shutdown, suggesting a later date. This is her prerogative – I will do the Address when the Shutdown is over.”
As acrimony in Washington grew, lawmakers across the political spectrum were left searching in vain for an exit strategy for the longest-ever halt to federal operations, as furloughed government employees and contractors vented their fury on Capitol Hill.
The prospects for Trump getting to deliver his national address in Congress next Tuesday as planned were dim, with the Senate votes — one on Trump’s proposal that includes money for his border wall and changes to immigration policy, the other by Democrats seeking to reopen government before negotiating border security — bound to fail.
Traditionally the president’s annual speech is delivered before a joint session of Congress in the ornate chamber of the House of Representatives.
Volvo recalls 219,000 cars to check for fuel leaks
STOCKHOLM: Volvo Cars, owned by the Chinese group Geely, has recalled 219,000 diesel-engine cars to fix potential fuel leaks in the engine compartment, a spokesman said Wednesday.
“Volvo preventatively recalls the cars to avert any possible future problems,” the spokesman told media.
“There are no reports alleging injuries or damages related to this issue.”
The action concerns 11 models, including the upscale XC60 and XC90, that were sold in 2015 and 2016, he added.
Around 37,000 vehicles are to be recalled in Sweden, 31,000 in Great Britain and 26,000 in Germany, the group’s three biggest European markets.
“Some vehicles may have small cracks inside one of the fuel lines in the engine department.
This, in combination with a pressurised fuel system may over time lead to fuel leakage in the engine compartment,” the spokesman explained.
The Swedish car company, which has now begun to focus on autonomous vehicles and those powered by electric or hybrid motors, is to release 2018 results on February 7.
Kenya to use smartphones to conduct 2019 census
NAIROBI: Kenya plans to use smartphones to conduct the 2019 national population and housing census, a senior government official said on Wednesday.
Henry Rotich, cabinet secretary in the National Treasury, told journalists in Nairobi that the government plans to acquire approximately 165,000 mobile devices for use by the census enumerators for the exercise that will take place in August.
“We are going to use mobile technology which will enhance quality of the data as it has in built checks and can correct inconsistent responses as well as cross validate data with other records,” Rotich said.
He said that Kenya seeks to follow in the steps of other African countries such as Egypt, Senegal and Ethiopia which have conducted paperless census.
He noted that the last census which was conducted on 2009 indicated that the east African country had a population of slightly less than 39 million people.
He said that the census will provide statistical information on the size, distribution and the characteristics of the Kenya population that will be used to describe and assess the socio-economic and demographic status of the country.