Kuek Ser Kuang Keng | Dec 18, 07 11:05am
Seventeen Bersih supporters arrested for breaching a ban to gather at the Parliament on Dec 11 have had their police bail extended to Dec 26.
The 17 were expected to be charged at the Kuala Lumpur Magistrate’s Court this morning but were instead given a one-week bail extension.
In all, 26 members of Bersih were arrested on Dec 11 in the vicinity of Parliament House, while attempting to deliver the memorandum on the extension of the Election Commission chief’s retirement age via constitutional amendment.
While nine were release unconditionally earlier in the day, the remaining 17 were only allowed to go on a police bail at about 10pm that night.
Among the last ones to be released that day included PKR information chief Tian Chua, PAS treasurer Dr Hatta Ramli and party Women’s chief Nuridah Mohd Salleh and central committee member Dr Lo’Lo’ Ghazali, and Parti Socialist Malaysia pro-tem chairperson Dr Nasir Hashim, secretary-general S Arutchelvan and party central committee member S Sivarajan.
Their lawyer Amer Hamzah Arshad today said that it was unclear if the 17 would be charged when they return to the court next Wednesday.
AG showing his power
Meanwhile Tian Chua told Malaysiakini the bail could have been extended because the Attorney-General’s Chambers was still studying the charges to be preferred against them.
“We were not holding rally when arrested, therefore the court injunction could not directly apply on us. They also cannot charge us for illegal assembly because we arrived Parliament separately,” he said.
However, he ruled out the possibility that they will be freed without being charged although Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail had shown some leniency yesterday by dropping the attempted murder charge against 31 individuals who had allegedly taken part in an illegal assembly organised by Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf).
“The reason they dropped the charge yesterday was to show they have the absolute power to decide your fate. If we are not happy, we will put you in jail. But if you willing to express your regret, we will let you go.”
“They also want to show that only MIC can free you,” said Tian Chua, referring to MIC president S Samy Vellu who had appealed to Premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to release the 31 Indians.
“Hence they will not spare us, or else it will give the impression that holding assembly is not wrong. They are just facing problem on how to charge us,” he said.
A rare court order
In the run up to the Bersih event, the police had obtained a rare restraining court order prohibiting four named individuals and other Bersih supporters from attending or taking part in the gathering.
The named persons are PAS leaders Dr Syed Azman Syed Ahmad Nawawi, Mohamad Sabu and Adenaan Saad and Malaysian Trade Union Congress chief Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud.
The order also stipulated that “other interested parties” are similarly prohibited from taking part in the gathering. It allowed the police to ‘arrest on sight’ those found in the vicinity of Parliament House.
A similar order was obtained by the police to ban the Hindraf rally on Nov 25.
Police bail extended for Bersih 17