PETALING JAYA: Now that Attorney General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas has dropped charges against 12 individuals with alleged links to the now-defunct Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), authorities will need to give Malaysians a good answer as to why they were arrested in the first place, says the Malaysian Bar.
Its president Datuk Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor (pic) said the AG exercised his discretion to discontinue the case and there was a lack of evidence to prove that the 12 had links to the group based on a statement released by the Attorney General's Chambers (AGC).
"From the contents of the statement released by the AGC, it would appear that there was no credible evidence to link the 12 to the charges proffered against them as there was no realistic prospect of conviction.
"It appears that there has been an abuse of the provisions of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) in charging them," he said.
Abdul Fareed said Malaysians would have questions as to why the 12, which include DAP state lawmakers G. Saminathan and P. Gunasekaran, were charged in the first place when there was a lack of evidence against them.
"The Malaysian public needs to know. It is disheartening that citizens could be arrested, charged and incarcerated without bail for a prolonged period on charges with no prospect of conviction," he said.
He also said the Bar Council has repeatedly called for the repeal of all oppressive and draconian laws including Sosma which it says has no place in a democratic nation and are an affront to the principles of natural justice.
"The Malaysian Bar calls upon the government to demonstrate full commitment to its election manifesto by abolishing such oppressive laws without further delay," he said.
Earlier, Thomas dropped all 34 charges against the accused saying that there is no realistic prospect of conviction for the accused, and that mere idol-worshipping does not constitute a crime.
He said each of the accused had photos of slain LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and other leaders killed during the Civil War in Sri Lanka.
"If such conduct can constitute a criminal offence, it would bring the law into disrepute," he said.
He added that even if there were elements of a "terrorist act" on the part of all or any of the 12 accused of possessing, distributing or displaying such photos of Prabhakaran, it would be impossible for the prosecution to establish that they do not fall within the excluded category of Section 130B(4) of the Penal Code in that they merely constitute "advocacy, protest or dissent".
He also said it was common to have pictures of admired idols and such practice is not limited to pop stars, sportsmen or actors.