The Kuala Lumpur High Court on Wed (29 Jan) dismissed a bail application filed by a Malaysian assemblyman who was charged under under Section 130J of the Penal Code for allegedly providing support to a Sri Lankan Tamil separatist group.
Bernama reported Judicial Commissioner Ahmad Shahrir Mohd Salleh as saying in his judgement that the ruling was made on the grounds that LTTE is classified as a terrorist group by the Malaysian Home Ministry.
“The LTTE is still gazetted as a terrorist group in this country and KDN [Home Ministry] has not dropped them from the list, despite claims that the group has been disbanded in its country of origin, Sri Lanka,” he said.
Datuk Ahmad Shahrir also noted that the court will usually “deny bail for offences which provide for life imprisonment or the death penalty”.
Those found guilty of an offence committed under Section 130J (1)(a) of the Penal Code may be subject to life imprisonment or a maximum jail term of 30 years or a fine, if convicted.
G. Saminathan, a member of the Melaka State Legislative Assembly representing the constituency of Gadek, plead not guilty to charges made against him pertaining to his alleged support for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) at a function in Ayer Keroh last Nov.
Saminathan was also charged with one count of possessing LTTE-related items in a mobile phone at the Human Resources and Consumer Affairs exco office in Chief Minister’s Department in Melaka last Oct.
Additionally, he was also charged for allegedly supporting the group via Facebook using the name ‘Gsami Nathan Siva’.
The Court has fixed 11 Feb for case management.
“Gross injustice” to deny bail solely on the basis of an offence carrying life imprisonment: MADPET
Human rights activist Charles Hector Fernandez said on Wed (29 Jan) — on behalf of the MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) initiative — that it is a “gross injustice to deny bail, simply because the offence one is charged with carries the death sentence, life imprisonment and/or a long prison term”.
Citing Article 11(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — which provides for the presumption of innocence until proven guilty “according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence” — Mr Fernandez said that that the judge had “erred, as even for murder, which carries the mandatory death penalty, bail has been granted in the past in Malaysia”.
“Thus, even for offences that carries the sentence of life imprisonment, bail can and ought to be granted. In the case of the late Datuk Balwant Singh, and the case Samirah Muzaffar, both who were charged with murder that carries the mandatory death penalty if convicted, bail was granted,” he added.
Mr Fernandez also highlighted that in today’s age, “the possibility of electronic tracking device which makes it very difficult for anyone to abscond”, in addition to retaining the accused’s passport, which serve the same purpose as bail in making sure that the accused shows up to court.
“A grave injustice is committed to any person denied bail, who is charged with an offence but is later found not guilty by the court. It affects not just the accused person but also his/her family and dependents.
“It is unjust when many, especially the poor, languish in detention until their trial is over simply because they simply cannot afford to furnish bail. This raises the possibility that many innocent persons will simply opt to plead guilty and serve out definite prison terms, rather than languish in detention for an indefinite period whilst their trial proceeds.
“Malaysia may want to consider what neighboring Thailand does through its Criminal Justice Fund that helps the poor be out on bail, amongst others, during their trial. The money can also used for criminal defence,” said Mr Fernandez.
Pakatan Harapan must repeal “draconian” SOSMA: MADPET
MADPET in its statement yesterday also urged the Pakatan Harapan government to repeal the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA) as promised in the coalition’s Election Manifesto in 2018.
“If a longer remand period, more than 14 days is required for certain serious offences, the maximum remand period for the purpose of investigations could be extended to 28 days, provided the requirement for further remand orders by Magistrates after hearing both parties is maintained,” Mr Fernandez said.
He added that the Malaysian government should not only repeal terrorist offences — given that Malaysian law has already criminalised such offences — but also review and publish a list of “current listed terrorist or criminal organizations”.
SOSMA, alleged Mr Fernandez, contains “draconian” provisions that allows the use of evidence that are considered inadmissible under Malaysia’s Evidence Act in trials, and for the use of ‘special’ unfair Criminal Procedures to be used during trial.
“Essential (Security Cases) Regulations 1975 (ESCAR), which was similar to SOSMA today, saw the Malaysian Bar and lawyers in the name of justice protesting and even calling for boycott of cases that used ESCAR.
“SOSMA ought to be repealed, not simply amended if we believe in fair trial,” he urged.