Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Bail denied for 31 Hindraf protesters
The Shah Alam Sessions Court today denied bail to 31 Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) protesters charged with the attempted murder of a police officer during an illegal gathering at the Batu Caves temple in the early hours of Nov 25.
Judge Azimah Omar said she was denying bail for national security reasons and based on the severity of the charges, which also included causing mischief.
Twelve of the 31 are also charged with participating in the illegal assembly.
Azimah fixed Jan 14-18 to hear the matter. Those accused will remain in remand at the Sungai Buloh prison until the disposal of the case.
Yesterday, Attorney-General (AG) Abdul Gani Patail objected to bail on grounds that the offences of attempted murder and causing mischief are not bailable.
He also told the court that the accused were dangerous to public order.
In her judgement, Azimah stressed that she had carefully weighed the facts of the case and that her decision was not based on racial and religious considerations.
Review application soon
Lead defence counsel GK Ganesan said he was "unhappy" with Azimah’s decision and that a review would be sought soon at the high court.
Another defence lawyer P Uthayakumar told reporters later that the case had angered the Indian community.
"They are already being pushed to the wall. Now, they want to push us beyond the wall," said Uthayakumar, who is one of Hindraf’s key leaders.
He alleged that the case brought against the 31 was a political decision and that the AG had practiced selective prosecution.
He reiterated his stand that the AG had acted on the Hindraf rally and their supporters because the group was made up of Indians.
He said the AG did not act on other major rallies without police permits this year with a Malay-majority participation, such as the Bersih rally on Nov 10.
Uthayakumar also slammed Abdul Gani for linking Hindraf with a Sri Lankan separatist group during bail application proceedings yesterday.
"The AG is trying to divert the issue by linking us to a terrorist organisation," he added.
When the court decision was announced this morning, it was met with shock and surprise by family members, some of whom broke into tears. Two women fainted outside the courtroom.
The crowd jeered at passing policemen while some told members of the press to report the truth.
"Watch what you write. We’re not gangsters. Don’t tarnish our names," shouted one man to reporters. "We’re not part of Hindraf. Why are they doing this to us?" exclaimed another.
Earlier, as the court was fixing a hearing date, Uthayakumar lost his cool and accused the prosecution team of purposely choosing a later date.
He angrily accused the AG of being "scared." This prompted AG’s Chambers prosecution department chief Yusof Zainal Abiden to shoot back with "we’re not!" and a heated exchange ensued.
Once Azimah restored order, she warned Uthayakumar that she had been patient with him over the last three days of proceedings