Hornbill Unleashed

October 5, 2017

Bersih chief: Revived criminal charge over rally an abuse of court system

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:02 AM

Maria Chin, who is one of the three accused in court, said that the prosecution’s reinitiating of the charge was a waste of time. — Picture by Choo Choy MayThe government’s revival today of a criminal charge against three rally-goers just over a month after their release amounts to an “abuse” of the court process, polls reform group Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah said today.

Maria Chin, who is one of the three accused in court, said that the prosecution’s reinitiating of the charge was a waste of time.

“I just feel that our recharge is really an abuse of judicial process.

“First of all, there was an opening for the DPP to argue their case, they didn’t turn up, they forgot about it, one went on holiday. That’s how much they put in terms of this case and it’s wasting a lot of taxpayers’ money and it’s wasting our time,” she told reporters today after the exact same charge was read out again in court to her and two others.

“All these lawyers have sacrificed their time and effort on a pro bono basis,” she said.

The trio were previously granted a discharge not amounting to acquittal (DNAA) as the original deputy public prosecutors failed to attend the first day of trial on August 28. A DNAA means the prosecution has the option of either reinitiating a criminal case or to not pursue it again.

Lawyer Rajsurian Pillai, who represented Maria Chin, said the charge against the trio today was a “recharge of the same case, same facts, same IO (investigating officer)”

“Is it wrong for the rakyat to ask for this? I don’t think it’s wrong. You are making assembly, expression as a crime and not something we uphold in our Constitution,” she said, referring to the rights to freedom of expression and freedom to assemble.

Bersih 2.0 secretariat manager Mandeep Singh Karpall Singh, who was one of the three accused today, described the initiating of the same charge as an “oppression continuing from 2015 until today”.

Noting that other elected lawmakers were also facing criminal cases over rallies, he told reporters: “It’s a systematic prosecution to disqualify lawmakers that will contest in the coming general elections.”

PKR’s Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin, also one of the trio, urged the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition to engage in a “healthy competition” with opposition politicians for the upcoming general election.

“So I say to BN, contest as a jantan (man) with us all, have a level-playing field. Come to contest based on merits, based on manifesto, performance and our track record in government and services; not using this kind of intimidation to try to disqualify us,” he told reporters, having noted the disqualification of PKR MP Rafizi Ramli due to a court matter and the one-month jailing of PKR MP Chua Tian Chang.

Earlier today, the trio pleaded not guilty to the charge of alleged participation in a Kuala Lumpur street protest that was held from 3.15pm to 6pm on March 28, 2015 and which started from Jalan Tun Perak and ended at the Sogo Complex.

The offence under Section 4(2)(c) of the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA), which they were initially charged with on September 28, 2015, is punishable with a maximum RM10,000 fine.

Under the Federal Constitution’s Article 48, lawmakers are disqualified from holding office if they are sentenced to at least a year in prison or fined at least RM2,000.

Sim today highlighted that the trio had went to support the #KitaLawan rally that was organised by the youths to demand justice for jailed PKR politician Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and to oppose the Goods and Services Tax (GST) which he said was burdensome, adding that the charge today was an abuse of the law.

“So this is actually against the spirit of the Constitution, the Constitution guarantees peaceful assembly and that is why Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 was enacted to regulate and let people have peaceful assemblies.

“So we can see many people have been arrested and charged under the PAA. The very purpose of the PAA is now being twisted, is now being misused, abused and become an oppressive tool by the government that be to oppress the civil society and voices of democracy,” he said.

“I’m very disappointed and sad for Malaysians because laws are abused and democracy spaces have been shrinking very fast,” he added.

The trio’s case will be mentioned before Magistrate Ahmad Solihin Abd Wahid on November 3.

Source : The Malay Mail Online by  IDA LIM



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