Malaysian court upholds Hindraf leaders’ detention

May 15th, 2008 - 3:14 pm ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, May 15 (IANS) Malaysia’s federal court has upheld the detention of five Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders under the Internal Security Act (ISA). The dismissal of their habeas corpus appeal against a high court verdict will probably ensure that the five - M. Manoharan, 46, P. Uthayakumar, 46, V. Ganabatirau, 34, R. Kengadharan, 40, and K. Vasantha Kumar, 34, - spend the next 19 months in jail.

The Sultan of Malaysia had issued a royal decree against the five last month, confirming their detention.

The three-man bench ruled that the detention of the five for two years under the ISA was legal.

Outside court, Hindraf supporters and family members of the detainees said they accepted the court’s verdict, but the struggle to seek the freedom of the five would continue.

Indicating that as a second habeas corpus appeal would be filed, their lawyer Karpal Singh said an option available was for Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar to revoke the orders and set them free.

The five had organised a protest rally last November that was joined by an estimated 10,000 Tamil Hindus, who form bulk of the 2.6 million population of ethnic Indians.

The rally was forcibly dispersed. The government charged the five with sedition and of suspected terror links.

Judge Alauddin Mohd Sherif said judicial commissioner Zainal Azman Ab Aziz, who heard their applications in the high court, had combed through the affidavits of respondents, including that of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who was then internal security minister.

Sitting with Alauddin were judges Arifin Zakaria and Hashim Yusof.

Alauddin said the decision by Abdullah to order the detention under ISA was not made in a “mechanical manner”, The Star said Thursday.

“The detentions were made based on investigations and that the respondents had complied with procedural requirements under the act,” said Alauddin, who read the oral grounds in a packed courtroom.

“There was no misdirection in law by the judicial commissioner,” said Alauddin.

A relative of Kenghadaran was seen sobbing uncontrollably outside the court.

The lawyer-lawmaker said he regretted that the apex court did not address the legal issues raised during submission.

“They should have given a detailed judgement and not merely affirm the ruling of the high court,” said Karpal Singh, adding he would also file a review application on the decision next week. He would also apply that the judges make available their grounds of judgements as soon as possible.

He said the five detainees would also file a second habeas corpus application against the advisory board chairman for allegedly failing to comply with procedural law.

At the detention centre, there was an in-house proceeding where the five were given the opportunity to prove their innocence.

Karpal, however, pointed out that at that proceeding, the investigating officer and witnesses were not called.

“The five were not given the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses,” he said.

Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail, who appeared for the government Wednesday, had submitted that the minister issued the order to detain the five after he was satisfied with the investigations.

The attorney-general said the five Hindraf leaders had caused racial tension and they had links with a Sri Lankan terrorist group.

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