17 men linked to Seafield temple riot freed

PETALING JAYA: Seventeen men have been acquitted by a Magistrate's Court here over the riot at the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Subang Jaya five years ago.

Magistrate Muhammad Iskandar Zainol made the order of discharge and acquittal at the end of the prosecution's case after finding that the prosecution had failed to prove the elements of the charge against the group.

The 17 are Saifullah Abdullah, Muhammad Riduan Sekh Ruslan, Irwan Noordin, Mohamad Khairi Abdul Rashid, Rozaihan Zakaria, Muhammad Qayyum Mohd Faisal, Mohd Ashraf Mohd Faizal, Absal Eastrie Abdullah, Mohamed Jalil Talib, Muhammad Khairol Anuar Zabidi, Mohd Zamri Md Said, Shukri Razali, Nor Azmi Abdul Ghani, Mohammad Shahril Danniel Sajeel, Muhammad Hasneezam Shah Samsudin, Akmal Izzat Azi and Mohd Norul Ismawi Islahuddin.

According to lawyer Kirthiraj Rajasundram, who represented Saifullah, the men were freed without their defence being called here on Tuesday (June 27).

He said the magistrate found that the witnesses in the case failed to identify the accused persons involved in the case as the incident had happened early in the morning.

"There was no positive identification and the witness statements were unreliable and inconsistent," he told the press.

Kirthiraj said there were no forensic reports on the weapon tendered to the court.

“The prosecution also did not tender any weapon in court as an exhibit such as a knife as stated in the charge sheet.

“All the weapons were merely collected from the scene by the witnesses and not seized from the accused persons,” he added.

The men, aged between 24 and 47, were charged with rioting and possessing dangerous weapons between 2am and 5am on Nov 26, 2018.

They were charged under Section 148 of the Penal Code, which carries a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment, a fine, or both, upon conviction.

In November 2018, a group of men were arrested in connection with the riot at the temple.

It was reported that the riot saw 18 cars and two motorcycles burnt after protesters gathered near the temple.

The incident was believed to have been sparked by the fracas between two opposing groups over the relocation of the temple to USJ 23, also in Subang Jaya.

Some 700 police personnel, including those from the Federal Reserve Unit, were deployed soon after the incident broke out.

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