Fauwaz Abdul Aziz (Malaysiakini.com) | Dec 12, 07 5:50pm
Lawyer P Uthayakumar was released from police custody at 5pm today - exactly 24 hours after he was arrested yesterday.
“They kept me for the full maximum period allowed by the law but took no steps to charge me,” he told Malaysiakini.
Uthayakumar was arrested yesterday at the Kuala Lumpur court complex as soon as he had posted RM50,000 bail in relation to his sedition charge.
The arrest yesterday was due to an allegedly seditious statement made by him regarding the arrest and of 31 people at Batu Caves on Nov 25 for attempted murder, he said.
Uthayakumar was kept overnight at the Kuala Lumpur remand centre in the old Pudu prison.
His lawyers and the media had been waiting at the Jalan Duta courts since early morning today for him to be brought to face fresh charges as alluded by the prosecution in their case yesterday.
However, news got out at about 5pm that the lawyer has been released without being charged. A small crowd of about 100 gathered outside the remand centre to welcome Uthayakumar, with a about 30 policemen keeping watch about 10 meters away.
Several of his supporters, some with tears in their eyes, came to hug him or shake his hand while he was feted with flower petals. One admirer bent to kiss his feet, as others chanted “Long live Uthaya!”
Speaking the truth
At the press conference held at the entrance of the remand centre, Uthayakumar said the repeated sedition charges to which he has been subjected to will not deter him from “speaking the truth” to power.
“They say it is sedition. To me, it is the truth, and as long as it is the truth, I will continue speaking it,” he said.
“You can lay 10 sedition charges against me. I will (continue to) speak the truth,” he added.
He also blasted Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail and Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan for ‘needlessly’ detaining him overnight.
Uthayakumar also said although he was not physically assaulted during his overnight detention, the ordeal nevertheless amounted to ‘torture’.
“Just to punish me, the AG and the Badawi government put me inside (jail) and released me just about 5pm, before 24-hour deadline came up,” he said.
“Last night, they did not release me, but chose to ‘torture’ me by detaining me overnight,” he added.
His lawyer M Manoharan said that Uthayakumar’s release was due to the “fear” the authorities had of his supporters.
“They must have been frightened of the supporters (who had gathered at remand centre last night) that they released him,” he claimed.
According to Uthayakumar, he refused to answer any questions the police posed to him during interrogation regarding the statement he made about the arrests at Batu Caves.
“I told them, ‘You are the criminals. I cannot answer your questions full stop. I will give my statement in court and to the (yet to formed) IPCMC (Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission),” he said to a cheering crowd.
Uthayakumar also said he had filed a police report against the police officer who arrested him yesterday at the Jalan Duta Court Complex.
Showing the ‘injury’ he sustained when he was handcuffed and pulled to the police van which brought him to the remand centre, he said the police’ initial plan to take him to the hospital for treatment had to be called off because of the sight of his supporters waiting for him on the road outside.
“They have a guilty conscience. They know what they’re doing is wrong (that) they’re so frightened of the people,” he said.
The crowd walked from the remand centre to a nearby temple for prayers before dispersing peacefully.