Rangoon (Mizzima) – A Burmese court has rejected a request from The Voice newspaper to move a libel suit involving the Ministry of Mines to the Supreme Court because of constitutional issues. The journal’s attorney said he would file an appeal.
On June 6, lawyer Thein Nyunt told the Dagon Township Court that the case involved the newspaper’s publication of information from a Union auditor-general’s report regarding financial actions by the Ministry of Mines and that the case involved constitutional issues.
On March 10, The Voice weekly journal reported in a cover story that the government ministry’s actions involved money totaling several hundred million kyat.
Earlier, the prosecutor asked for the journal to reveal the name of the correspondent who wrote the story, but on May 23, judge Khin Thant Zin ruled that the journal did not have to provide the writer’s name.
On March 14, Mizzima reported that The Voice wrote that the Ministry of Mines, according to an Union auditor-general's report, sold 50 per cent of shares in the Monywa copper mines, owned by the ministry, to the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (UMEHL), but that a foreign company paid the money on behalf of UMEHL.
The amount of the sale was US$ 100 million, according to the article. The Ministry of Mines denied the journal’s allegation, saying that there was no misuse of funds, no manipulating of finances, no secrets and no cheating, according to an article in the state-run newspaper, The Mirror.
Kyaw Min Swe, the chief editor of The Voice, told Mizzima that the journal’s article is based on a 36-page report sent by the Union auditor-general to the Lower House’s Public Accounts Committee.
“All of the facts are reliable,” he said. “In fact, our news does not contain all the details of the report. The details in it are more serious,” said Kyaw Min Swe.
The Ministry of Mines, in the state-run newspaper, alleged that the journal’s information was not true and it damaged the ministry’s reputation.