Tuesday November 27, 2007
Discharge for trio
By WANI MUTHIAH
KLANG: The three Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) members charged with sedition at the Sessions Court here last Friday were given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal by the same court yesterday.
The trio had been charged under the Sedition Act for allegedly uttering words to incite hatred in their speeches at a gathering in Batang Berjuntai on Nov 16.
In delivering her decision, Judge Zunaidah Mohd Idris said the charge against lawyers P. Uthayakumar, P. Waythamoorthy and V.S. Ganapathi Rao appeared to be ambiguous because the prosecution had failed to provide original transcripts of the Tamil speeches.
According to Zunaidah, the prosecution should have transcribed the speeches in the original language first before translating them into Malay and an accredited translator must also certify the transcription and translation.
Since the translation was not certified, it could not be known if it was an accurate version of the Tamil speeches made by the three defendants.
All these factors, said Zunaidah, resulted in the court being unclear and unconvinced about the charge brought against the three.
She said she was unable to see the focal point of the charge even after thoroughly perusing all its pros and cons.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Ishak Mohd Yusof, who received a sound thrashing from the defence team, made up of six lawyers including M. Manoharan, A. Sivanesan, Gobind Singh Deo and G.K. Ganesan, said the original transcripts would be provided during the trial.
He said the original transcripts would be tendered when hearing began and the translator would be called in as a witness to defend the accuracy of his translation.
Gobind Singh asked why the prosecution had to wait until the trial to produce the transcripts of the original speech.
Ganesan explained to the court that a Malay word had multiple meanings in Tamil and said this further questioned the accuracy of the charge as it was based on uncertified translations of the original speeches.
Meanwhile, Manoharan noted that the prosecution had failed to adhere to Zunaidah’s instructions on Friday to attach the Tamil transcripts of the speeches to the charge sheet and asked why it had failed to follow the judge’s instructions.
Ramdas Tikamdas and Amer Hamzah Arshad held watching briefs for the National Human Rights Society (Hakam) and the Bar Council respectively.
Ramdas said that given the obvious ambiguity of the charge and the prosecution's non-compliance of a direct order, the court should lean towards a decision that upheld the fundamental liberties enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
PKR advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was also at the courts to see Uthayakumar, Waythamoorthy, and Ganapathi.
Later, the Hindraf leaders addressed about 3,000 supporters who had gathered outside the court complex.
Uthayakumar said he had merely presented a slideshow in Batang Berjuntai showing what was actually happening on the ground and what was being said by those at the top.
“They cannot accept this and decided to call it seditious,” he said.
Waythamoorthy, who had refused bail on Friday as a sign of protest, said the movement had planned the rally as a peaceful gathering to hand over a petition for the Queen but the police had refused to issue a permit.
“Bus permits for those travelling from outstation were also cancelled.”