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

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.