World

New Zealander pleads innocent in Myanmar over advertisement showing Buddha in headphones

  • Philip Blackwood, center, a New Zealand bar manager, is escorted by Myanmar police officers as he leaves a court following a court appearance along with Myanmar nationals Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014, in Yangon, Myanmar. Blackwood and and two Myanmar men have pleaded innocent to charges they insulted religion by posting an advertisement with an image of a pink Buddha wearing headphones. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)

    Philip Blackwood, center, a New Zealand bar manager, is escorted by Myanmar police officers as he leaves a court following a court appearance along with Myanmar nationals Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014, in Yangon, Myanmar. Blackwood and and two Myanmar men have pleaded innocent to charges they insulted religion by posting an advertisement with an image of a pink Buddha wearing headphones. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)  (The Associated Press)

  • New Zealand citizen Philip Blackwood, second left, accused of insulting Buddhism, chained to other suspects of various crimes walk in to a transit cell ahead of a court hearing in Yangon, Myanmar, Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014. Blackwood and two Myanmar men have pleaded innocent to charges they insulted religion by posting an advertisement with an image of a pink Buddha wearing headphones. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

    New Zealand citizen Philip Blackwood, second left, accused of insulting Buddhism, chained to other suspects of various crimes walk in to a transit cell ahead of a court hearing in Yangon, Myanmar, Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014. Blackwood and two Myanmar men have pleaded innocent to charges they insulted religion by posting an advertisement with an image of a pink Buddha wearing headphones. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)  (The Associated Press)

  • A police officer escorts New Zealand citizen Philip Blackwood, left, who is accused of insulting Buddhism, for a court hearing in Yangon, Myanmar, Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014. Blackwood, general manager of the V Gastro Bar, and two Myanmar business partners were arrested last week after posting an online advertisement for the tapas bar that showed a psychedelic image of Buddha wearing headphones. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

    A police officer escorts New Zealand citizen Philip Blackwood, left, who is accused of insulting Buddhism, for a court hearing in Yangon, Myanmar, Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014. Blackwood, general manager of the V Gastro Bar, and two Myanmar business partners were arrested last week after posting an online advertisement for the tapas bar that showed a psychedelic image of Buddha wearing headphones. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)  (The Associated Press)

A New Zealand bar manager and two Myanmar men have pleaded innocent to charges they insulted religion by posting an advertisement with an image of a pink Buddha wearing headphones.

Philip Blackwood, general manager of the V Gastro Bar, was arrested last week after posting the online advertisement for the bar in Myanmar's biggest city, Yangon. The charges carry a penalty of up to two years in prison.

The advertisement was removed and an apology was posted, but Blackwood and the two men were arrested. Four prosecution witnesses testified at their first trial session Thursday, and defense witnesses are to take the stand on Dec. 26.

About 90 percent of Myanmar's people are Buddhist. Perceived insults to the religion are taken seriously.