Saturday November 24, 2007
Lawyers charged with sedition
By WANI MUTHIAH
KLANG: Three members of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) have been charged under the Sedition Act for allegedly uttering seditious words to incite hate in their speeches made at a gathering in Batang Berjuntai on Nov 16.
Lawyers P. Uthayakumar, his brother Waythamoorthy, and V.S. Ganapathi Rao were charged in a Sessions Court here yesterday evening.
All three claimed trial to the charge which carries a jail sentence of up to three years and a maximum fine of RM5,000.
The prosecution proposed bail of RM10,000 for each of them, but Sessions Court judge Junaidah Mohd Idris set bail at RM800 each pending mention of the case on Monday.
Their lawyers M. Manoharan and A. Sivanesan had earlier pointed out to the court several technicalities in the charge, which included the absence of transcripts of the speeches, which were made in Tamil.
Malay translations of the speeches were attached to only Uthayakumar and Waythamoorthy’s charge sheets.
Junaidah ordered the prosecution – made up of Deputy Public Prosecutors Ishak Mohd Yusof, Fariza Hamzah and Norizan Ariffin – to attach the Tamil transcripts of the speeches to the charge sheet, and called for an accredited translator to read out the transcripts of the Tamil speeches in court.
She also instructed the prosecution to highlight the words deemed seditious in the transcripts.
According to the judge, since the allegedly seditious speeches were made in Tamil, the charge should be based on that as opposed to Malay translations.
Junaidah also said a new bail amount would be set on Monday.
A large gathering of Hindraf supporters outside the court premises shouted slogans in support of the trio.
The crowd also passed the hat around and raised RM3,244 for bail money.
Two truckloads of Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) personnel as well as policemen were on standby in the area.
The supporters later carried Uthayakumar, Manoharan and Sivanesan on their shoulders from the Klang courts to the Raja Rajeswary temple near Jalan Tengku Kelana about 1km away.
Prayers were held at the temple after which Uthayakumar spoke briefly to the crowd before leaving the premises.
Uthayakumar was arrested at his office in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, yesterday morning, Waythamoorthy in the afternoon while Ganapathi Rao was detained when he went to see them at the Selangor police contingent headquarters in Shah Alam at about 3pm.
Police have rejected Hindraf’s application for a permit to hold an assembly outside the British High Commission tomorrow.
The aim of the assembly is to submit a petition with 100,000 signatures to Queen Elizabeth II to appoint a Queen’s Counsel to represent the Indian community in a class action suit against the British Government for bringing Indians as labourers to then Malaya and exploiting them.
The suit, filed at the Royal Courts of Justice in London by Waythamoorthy in August, seeks compensation of up to US$4tril (RM13.5tril), or US$1mil (RM3.4mil) for every Indian in Malaysia.