8 February 2005
Source: Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)
THE Burmese military on 7 February started the court trial of Sonny Swe, the jailed co-founder of the weekly “Myanmar Times”, for alleged economic crime.
The Delhi-based Mizzima News, an independent exiled Burmese news agency told SEAPA that, if found guilty, Sonny could be meted a prison term of seven to 14 years.
Sonny’s wife, Yamin Htin Aung, is currently helping to run the newspaper as deputy chief executive officer. Myanmar Times has been unable to update its website ever since her Sonny’s arrest on 26 November 2004.
SEAPA sources in Rangoon say Sonny, 36, was one the first media personalities arrested following the September ouster of Gen. Khin Nyunt as prime minister. Sonny’s father, Brigadier General Thein Swe, was also detained.
Other Military Intelligence-affiliated publications have been forced to close down ever since.
Under MI supervision, Myanmar Times circumvented regular scrunity from the Press Scrutiny Board, which falls under the MI’s rival office within the bureaucracy, the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Sonny Swe’s trial was originally set for 3 February. It was postponed for unknown reasons. His trial is one among ongoing 300 trials of Khin Nyunt’s associates who are accused by the military junta of corruption and economic crimes. The trials are expected to last six weeks.
Sonny co-founded the Myanmar Times with Australian publisher Ross
The journal has a weekly circulation of 25,000 in Burmese, and 3,000 copies in English. It was registered under the Office of Strategic Studies, which was formerly controlled by Khin Nyunt. It is the only publication in Burma with foreign investment.