A verdict in the trial of Ross Dunkley, co-founder of The Myanmar Times and the publisher of The Phnom Penh Post, is due to be announced on June 30, said the presiding judge of Kamaryut township court in Yangon yesterday.
The judge was speaking at the case’s 18th hearing, after final arguments were presented by Dunkley’s lawyer, Aung Than Soe.
The lawyer said there was no evidence that his client had committed the offences for which he was charged. Dunkley, aged 53, was arrested on February 10 and later charged with violating criminal and immigration laws. Aung Than Soe referred to differences between an initial report and the court testimony of Khine Zar Lin, the main witness for the prosecution, whose allegations included being held against her will at Dunkley’s house between January 16 and January 18 this year.
The lawyer said that in a first report, Khine Zar Lin had only mentioned that she had been assaulted and injured by Dunkley, but when she later testified in court she spoke of having been drugged.
In subsequent testimony, she said she did not clearly remember what had happened on the night of January 18 because she was drunk, Aung Than Soe said.
He said that as Dunkley worked in the media sector he was well aware of the laws of Myanmar. Dunkley had never broken the law in Myanmar, he added.
“There is the accepted principle of criminal jurisprudence that a man is presumed to be innocent until he is found to be guilty,” he said. According to the principle of presumption of innocence he should be acquitted, he said.
Defence witnesses testified at a previous hearing on June 16 that Khine Zar Lin was not present at Dunkley’s home between January 16 and 18 this year. The court was told last Thursday that Dunkley had arrived home with Khine Zar Lin late on January 18, but had left with her in his car within about 15 minutes and had returned home alone 15 minutes later.
Dunkley said at a hearing last Thursday that he had never supplied drugs to Khine Zar Lin, that there were no drugs in his home and that he had never broken the law in Myanmar. Khine Zar Lin had in February submitted an application to withdraw her charges against Dunkley and approval for her to do so was granted in May.
Following his arrest, Dunkley spent 47 days in Yangon’s Insein Prison and was released on bail on March 29 under surety provided by the chief executive officer of Myanmar Consolidated Media, Dr Tin Tun Oo, and the company’s chief operating officer, U Wai Linn.