All charges over LTTE dropped

PETALING JAYA: The 12 individuals accused of supporting Sri Lanka’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had all the 34 charges against them dropped.

Attorney General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas in making the announcement yesterday said there was no realistic prospect of conviction for any of the 12 accused on any of the 34 charges.

He said each of the accused had in his mobile phone or Facebook account photos of (Velupillai) Prabhakaran and other leaders of LTTE slain during the civil war in Sri Lanka and if such conduct could constitute a criminal offence, it would bring the law into disrepute.

“But 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 said in a statement.

Thomas added that it was commonplace to have idols to whom hero-worship was displayed.

“It is not just pop stars, sportsmen or actors who are admired: historical personalities and politicians are often the subjects of adoration.

“Thus, millions of people across the globe admire Lenin, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung or Che Guevara, and the like.

“Having their photos and other representations in one’s mobile phone or on a Facebook account does not transform one into being a terrorist, ” he said.

Thomas said just because each of these leaders used terror or violence to achieve their political goals does not mean that an ardent supporter online should be regarded as a terrorist or is planning a terrorist act.

“That is the common theme of all the 12 LTTE accused. For these reasons, I have decided that there is no realistic prospect of conviction for any of the 12 accused on any of the 34 charges.

“Accordingly, in the exercise of my discretion pursuant to Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution, I have decided to discontinue proceedings against them with immediate effect, ” he said.

The 12 were detained by the Federal Police’s Counter-Terrorism Division on Oct 10 and 12 last year in various parts of the country.

They were two DAP politicians – Melaka executive councillor G. Saminathan, who is Gadek assemblyman, and Seremban Jaya assemblyman P. Gunasekaran.

The others were taxi driver V. Balamurugan, 37; postman S. Teeran, 38; scrap metal trader A. Kalaimughilan, 28; a chief executive officer of a corporation, S. Chandru, 38; technician S. Arivainthan, 27; storekeeper S. Thanagaraj, 26; security guard M. Pumugan, 29; school teacher Sundram Renggan @ Rengasamy, 52; DAP member V. Suresh Kumar, 43, and businessman B. Subramaniam, 57.

Thomas explained that there must be sufficient evidence for the prosecution to establish the crime “beyond reasonable doubt”, saying that the prosecutors must take account of facts that only became known as the case develops after the charges were laid.

“I must be satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction against each suspect on each charge. In reaching that judgement, I must exercise discretion responsibly and impartially.

“It is noted that six of the accused have been charged for offences that allegedly took place between March and December 2014 but prosecutors did not see it fit to charge them soon after the alleged offences had been committed.

“It is against the public interest that these six persons are tried in 2020 for offences allegedly committed six years previously. The passage of time is unacceptable for a case of this nature.

“The charges relating to the other six accused concern offences allegedly occurring in January and October 2019 but by this time, even if LTTE was still gazetted under our laws as a terrorist group, the defence will contend that the LTTE has not been responsible for violence even in its home country, Sri Lanka in 2019, let alone having any impact on the ordinary affairs of ordinary people in Malaysia.

“The link is remote, specious and tenuous. Harm to Malaysians cannot be established by the prosecution, ” said Thomas.

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