Court urged to discharge 25 accused in Batu Buruk riot

NST, 2008/01/21
By Rosli Zakaria
KUALA TERENGGANU: The Sessions Court was yesterday urged to discharge all the 25 men accused of taking part in a riot in Batu Buruk last year.

The defence said this was because it would be prejudicial to consolidate and hear their cases simultaneously.
Tun Mohd Salleh Abas, who was leading the defence, said it was prejudicial to have a joint trial as the charges for the accused were different and involved different times and places.
“One of the cases involved an arrest of an accused at 5.15am. Therefore, this cannot be regarded as the same as those involving the other accused who were arrested at a different time and place.
“If a joint trial is allowed, it will only confuse the court and could be prejudicial to the defence. I hope the court will use its discretion not to allow a joint trial.”
The court was told that 18 men were charged with illegal assembly, two with using criminal force to intimidate a policeman, two were arrested for not carrying identification cards and one for mischief. Two were juveniles.
“The juveniles should be tried at the Children’s Court and not together with the adults,” said Salleh.
Counsel also said consolidating the cases would make it easy for the prosecution but difficult for the defence.
Datuk Wan Abdul Muttalib Embong, who was assisting Salleh, said convenience for the prosecution was not justice.
“Even the charge sheets given to me are faulty, prejudicial and biased to the accused. All the accused should be discharged.”
At this juncture, judge Hassan Abdul Ghani said he had also received the charge sheets and the documents were complete.
“Maybe those (the charge sheets) given to me were incomplete,” replied Wan Abdul Muttalib.
Mohamed Hanipa Maidin, another defence counsel, said there was no common design among the accused to allow for a joint trial as the charges were different.
Prosecution was led by deputy public prosecutor Mohamad Hanafiah Zakaria.
Submissions on whether the cases should be consolidated continues today.
Meanwhile, in the High Court earlier, the two men charged with using criminal force to intimidate a policeman at the illegal assembly in Batu Buruk were granted bail.
In making the decision, the High Court set aside an earlier ruling by the Sessions Court which had denied Azman Aziz, 21, and Suwandi Abdul Ghani, 38, bail when the case was mentioned on Sept 9, last year.
Judge Ahmad Zaidi Ibrahim set bail at RM3,000 each. However, he warned that the bail would be revoked if the two were caught attending illegal assemblies.
Earlier, Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail who led the prosecution, said in determining bail the court must set conditions to ensure that the two men would be present during the trial.
He said they should not be allowed within 1km of an illegal assembly or to attend any ceramah that had not been approved by the authorities.