KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 3, 2009): Twenty-nine people, including a 16-year-old boy, have claimed trial in the sessions court here today in connection with activities related to Saturday's protests against the Internal Security Act (ISA).
Demonstrators gather to protest against the Internal Security
Police fire tear gas at protesters during a demonstration. Thirteen were alleged to have been "aiding" an illegal assembly by having in their possession shirts and hats which read "Unit Amal Msia".
A further 16, including the boy, were charged with taking part in illegal assemblies during the attempted march to Istana Negara to deliver a memorandum to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong calling for the repeal of the ISA.
Deputy public prosecutor Noordin Mohd Hassan asked the court to set bail at RM6,000 in one surety each adult defendant, and RM5,000 for the juvenile.
Counsel Honey Tan objected and asked the court to acknowledge the child and not set bail for him.
"Under Section 84(3) of the Child Act, the court shall enquire into the case, and unless the charge is one of murder or other grave crimes, it is necessary in the best interests of the child arrested to remove him from association of any undesirable persons or the court has reason to believe releasing the child is detrimental to justice, the court shall release the child without sureties," Tan said.
"He is in Form 4 in Sekolah Agama Pak Teh in Pengkalan Hulu, Perak. It is my submission that this is not the charge for a grave crime, and it is definitely not in the best interests of the child to be kept with the adults which is again, in contravention of the Child Act. The child should be kept separate, and with assessors, one of which should be a woman."
Bar Council lawyer Fadiah Nadwa Fikri told the court:"Malaysia is a signatory to the Convention of the Rights of the Child. The paramount consideration should be the interests of the child. As we are a signatory, the international law is binding on us."
Fellow counsel Azizzul Shariman Mat Yusof asked the court to reduce the bail which, he said, was excessive.
"In determining the bail, it should be set at the standard of the magistrates court. We do not see any reason for them to be charged in this court as the relevant laws only have a maximum six-month jail term. In the case of 27(5) of the Police Act, the maximum jail term is for a year.
"And under Section 43 of the Societies Act, the maximum jail term is three years, which is within the power of the Magistrates Court," said Azizzul.
"Even if the prosecution wanted the maximum penalty, the Magistrates Court has the power to give it," he added, asking the court to not consider it with excessive seriousness merely because it was filed in the Sessions Court.
"The charges are not violent ones. There is no element of violence, and strictly speaking all the charges are of a technical nature. Assembling without a valid permit and being a member of a unregistered society. These offences are not criminal in nature. There are no victims in the case," said Azizzul.
"Based on the offence, a personal bond would be best based on the facts of the case and the penalties which are not high and the low risk of flight," said Azizzul.
He suggested a bail of RM200 per person as an alternative to a personal bond.
After hearing the submissions, sessions court judge Mohamed Sekeri Mamat set bail at RM500 with one surety for the 28 adults, and at RM300 with no surety for the juvenile and fixed Sept 4 for mention.
- The Sun (sun2surf) 4/8/2009