Arrest of lawyer unwarranted, says Bar Council

  • Nation
  • Friday, 24 Jan 2003

PETALING JAYA: The Bar Council has expressed concern over the arrest, detention and charging of lawyer P. Uthayakumar for intentionally interrupting a magistrate in the course of a judicial proceeding. 

Its chairman Mah Weng Kwai said the manner in which the police handled his arrest should be criticised. 

“The Bar Council is of the view that to arrest Uthayakumar at the doorsteps of the Sepang magistrate court by an unnecessarily large team of around 20 police officers was completely unwarranted,” Mah said in a press statement yesterday. 

He said there was no necessity for the arrest to take place “in the full glare of the public and in full view of his clients”, as well as in the presence of journalists if the intention was only to require him to go to the police station to help in investigations. 

“The Bar Council notes that the police are themselves the complainant in the case, and view the arrest as a serious abuse of police powers, given the calculated timing and publicity involved,” he added. 

Mah said the Federal Constitution required a person arrested to be informed of the grounds of arrest, and be allowed to consult and defended by a legal practitioner, both of which Uthayakumar was deprived of. 

“The Bar Council also notes with concern that although lawyers went on record to represent Uthayakumar, they were denied access to their client,” he added. 

He said the council called upon the Inspector-General of Police to investigate the matter. Mah also said the Bar Council strongly opposed the decision to charge Uthayakumar under Section 228 of the Penal Code. 

“Charging a lawyer for intentionally insulting or causing interruption to any public servant while he is sitting in any stage of a judicial proceeding has destructive implications for all lawyers,” he said. 

He added that a lawyer should be free from fear of criminal prosecution to enable him to discharge his duty and to uphold the cause of justice. 

“In view of the wide and serious ramifications of criminal prosecution on all Malaysian lawyers, the Bar Council calls for the charge against Uthayakumar to be withdrawn immediately,' he said.  

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