Malaysian court rejects Hindraf detainee’s appeal

April 21st, 2009 - 4:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Hindraf Kuala Lumpur, April 21 (IANS) A Malaysian court has rejected an appeal by a jailed leader of a Hindu body, paving the way for his trial under the stringent sedition charge.
The High Court rejected the plea of Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) legal adviser P. Uthayakumar that the charge was “baseless and defective” and needed to be proved beyond doubt for the trial to begin.

Judicial commissioner Azman Abdullah Monday rejected an appeal by Uthayakumar against the Sessions Court’s dismissal of his application to have the sedition charge dropped, saying that the submission by Uthayakumar’s counsel was merely a defence which could only be used to prevent the prosecution from proving a prima facie case.

Uthayakumar is one of the three detailed under the stringent Internal Security Act (ISA), serving a two year jail term that ends in December.

On Dec 11, 2007, Uthayakumar was charged with publishing seditious material in a letter posted on the Police Watch website.

The letter, dated Nov 15, was from Hindraf and addressed to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at No. 10, Downing Street, London.

As per media reports, Uthayakumar was alleged to have blamed the erstwhile British colonisers for the present-day discrimination in jobs and education of ethnic Indians in Malaysia.

Numbering over two million, the Indians, a bulk of them Tamils, form eight percent of the country’s population.

Uthayakumar’s counsel, N. Surendran, submitted that the charge was baseless as there was no proof that Uthayakumar wrote the article.

He said in any criminal case, the charge must be proved against the accused person beyond reasonable doubt.

“In this case, the prosecution will not be able to prove that the letter was produced by Uthayakumar, unless he admits it.”

Surendran also told the court that Uthayakumar, who is being detained at the Kamunting detention centre under the ISA, had refused to come to court due to bad treatment given to him by the police on a previous occasion.

Deputy public prosecutor Farhan Read said it was premature for the defence to say that the prosecution did not have any evidence.

“The prosecution will not charge someone in court without sufficient evidence.”

Of the five Hindraf detainees, two - Ganabatirau and S. Kengadharan - were released in “a conciliatory gesture” by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak April 3, the day he took office.

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