Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Bersih 21 acquitted | Free Malaysia Today

Bersih 21 acquitted

G Vinod | September 18, 2012
The Sessions Court ruled there was no evidence the defendants were involved in the planned rally in November 2008.
PETALING JAYA: The Sessions Court here today acquitted all 21 defendants charged with allegedly being involved in the Bersih first-year anniversary rally in November 2008.

In her verdict, judge Hayatul Akmal said that there was a gap in the prosecution’s case and there was no evidence the defendants were involved in the planned rally.

She also said that the prosecution’s witnesses could not specify clearly on when the police ordered the rally participants to disperse.

“The prosecution also failed to substantiate the defendants’ role in the rally. It takes more than attendance to prove participation,” she said.

The 21 people were charged under Section 27 (5) (a) and Section (4) A of the Police Act 1967 with allegedly participating in the illegal assembly near at Petaling Jaya City Hall (MBPJ) building lawn and failing to disperse on the instruction of police.

The participants held a candlelight vigil to celebrate the event.

Among those charged were Petaling Jaya MP Tony Pua, Selangor executive council member Ronnie Liu and Kampung Tunku state assemblyman Lau Weng San.

Speaking after the verdict, the defendants’ lawyer Gobind Singh Deo said he welcomed the court’s decision and urged the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AG) to study the verdict.

“It’s a sound decision by the judge and I urge the AG not to file an appeal. The AG must also consider the announcement by Parliament that Section 27 of the Police Act is outdated,” said Gobind, who is also Puchong DAP MP.

Section 27 of the Police Act was repealed by Parliament this year and replaced with the Peaceful Assembly Act.

Pua urged the government to respect the people’s right to assemble peacefully without fear of being hauled up by the authorities.

“Malaysians have matured. People can assemble peacefully and light up candles,” he said.

Meanwhile, DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang said the defendants should not have been charged in the first place.
“The AG and the police must change their mindset on rallies,” he said.

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