Hsipaw Township Court (Shan State)Â will consider the bail request of three detained journalists and rule next week, the judge presiding over the case announced on Friday.
â€œThe judge accepted the submission of a bail appeal,â€ said Daw Khin Mi Mi, lawyer of one of the accused men, Irrawaddy reporter Lawi Weng.
â€œPersons facing the charge can be released on bail and we believe the judge will do his best,â€ reported the lawyer, adding that the judge said he would rule at the next court hearing on Aug. 4.
Six menâ€”including Lawi Weng and the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) reporters U Aye Naing and Ko Pyae Phyo Naingâ€”appeared in Hsipaw Township Court on Friday for the third time on Friday after two earlier surprise court dates.
All of the journalists appeared in good physical and mental health.
The court, on Friday, heard testimony from a local army official as a witness for the prosecution.
Capt. Thet Naing Oo, who arrested the journalists in June, presented photos and video files as proof of the accusedâ€™s connection with ethnic armed group the Taâ€™ang National Liberation Army (TNLA).
He told the court that the journalists failed to request permission from local security forces at a police station, Myanmar Army base, or local administration office before travelling to cover a drug-burning ceremony held by the TNLA to mark the UNâ€™s International Day Against Drug Abuse.
The six menâ€”three journalists, two drivers and a local manâ€”were travelling in two vehicles near Phayagyi Village between Namhsan and Lashio townships on June 26 and were arrested on suspicion of connection with the TNLA, which operates in the area.
The journalists and a local man were charged under Article 17(1) of the colonial-era Unlawful Associations Act for contacting the TNLA, while the drivers received additional charges for the two unlicensed vehicles. They were placed in detention in Hsipaw Prison.
Amnesty International issued a statement on Thursday calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the journalists.