Friday, April 17, 2009

Hindraf leaders' bid for freedom rejected

Hafiz Yatim Apr 16, 09 7:22pm

Hindraf legal advisor P Uthayakumar today failed in his two separate bids to seek a release from the ISA detention in Kamuning detention centre.

In the morning, the Federal Court struck out an appeal by Uthayakumar and two other Hindraf leaders to be released from detention.And later in the day, the Kuala Lumpur High Court similarly rejected his habeas corpus application to be released from the detention-without-trial.Uthayakumar and four others - M Manoharan, K Vasantha Kumar, R Kengadharan and V Ganabatirau - were all detained on Dec 13, 2007 for their role in Hindraf in mobilising the Indian community to protest against the government over their plight.Kengadharan and Ganabatirau were however released along with 13 other ISA detainees on April 5 as part of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak first gesture after becoming the premier.

The matter in the Federal Court was an appeal against an earlier High Court decision in rejecting the application of all five to be released.At the start of the hearing this morning, the lawyer for the Hindraf detainees Karpal Singh applied for the freed duo to be removed from the appeal, which the apex court allowed.After that judges Nik Hashim Nik Ab Rahman, S Augustine Paul and Hashim Yusoff heard the appeal and dismissed it unanimously.The judges said they would be delivering their grounds of judgment at a later date, much to the disappointment of Karpal.

This appeal at the Federal Court was against a decision by the Ipoh High Court on May 30 last year to reject their leave for freedom.Their application was based in their challenge against the validity of the king's order confirming the recommendation of the ISA advisory board for extension of their detention on and after March 26 last year.

Karpal told reporters outside the court that he would file for a review of today's decision."I did not come here just to hear the appeal being dismissed and that grounds would be given later," he said."I have to apologise to the family members and Hindraf supporters who are here today to listen to the grounds but none given," he added.He said the court should have delivered the grounds of judgment today as it had ample time to prepare the judgment as the last proceedings were on March 11.

Health grounds unaccepted

Later in the afternoon, Uthayakumar's sole application to be released on the grounds of his health was similarly rejected.His application was on the grounds that he needed medical treatment for his fractured toe which he had suffered since January.Judicial Commissioner Azman Abdullah made the decision in allowing the preliminary objection made by deputy public prosecutor Najib ZakariaNajib's objection was based on the principles of res judicata (a matter already decided) as one of Uthayakumar's earlier habeas corpus applications was also rejected based on the lawyer's medical condition of being a diabetic.

Azman also accepted the second ground of preliminary objection that a person could not apply for a release from detention based on medical grounds."I allow the preliminary objection and hence dismiss the application," he said.Uthayakumar was represented by counsel N Surendran.

The 47-year-old Uthayakumar had filed his habeas corpus application due to the fractured toe which he has been suffering since January, made worse by his diabetes.Surendran said he would seek further instructions but is likely to file an appeal over the decision.All three detainees were not present in court today.