Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Uthayakumar Presses On To Disqualify Judge

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 28 (Bernama) -- The Sessions Court hearing a sedition charge against lawyer P. Uthayakumar was all riled up on Monday when his counsels continued to insist that Judge Sabariah Othman recuse herself from hearing the case, despite being repeatedly told to file an application.

One of the counsels, N. Surendran, was also engaged in a heated exchange with Deputy Public Prosecutor Noorin Badaruddin after he asked whether the prosecution was instructed to ensure Uthayakumar was convicted to prevent him from contesting in the next general election.

After lengthy arguments, Sabariah allowed Uthayakumar and his counsels, Surendran and M. Manogar, to submit why she should disqualify herself.

She said she would decide by noon tomorrow whether to allow the application or order the hearing to continue.

Uthayakumar said Surendran had filed an application at the High Court Criminal Registry on Sept 10 for the sedition trial to be transferred to the High Court.

He claimed the High Court was more competent to hear the case, citing the allegation against him involved complicated issues.

Another application was filed on Sept 23 to obtain more documents under Section 51A of the Criminal Procedure Code on police investigations into the 1999 Kampung Medan issue.

"So far, we did not receive any document from the prosecution on the Kampung Medan issue and this court should wait for the High Court to hear the application for the transfer of the case before continuing with the trial.

"I don't understand why this court is insisting to go on with this case where the High Court might decide in favour of my application," said Uthayakumar who spoke, in addition to his counsels.

This earned him a ticking off from Sabariah who pointed out that the trial had been postponed several times for various reasons since he was charged on Dec 11, 2007.

"This case is fixed for hearing for three days and the case is still within jurisdiction of this court and I will continue with the hearing," she said.

Noorin told the court the prosecution had handed over more than 160 documents to the defence and that she was not aware of the two applications filed by Uthayakumar's counsel.

"We were not informed about these applications and the court should not allow the case to be postponed since there are four witnesses present in court, with two who had to travel from Sarawak," she said.

Noorin submitted that under Article 154 of the Federal Constitution, the Attorney-General had the power to prosecute anyone and there was nothing extraordinary about Uthayakumar's trial to be heard before the High Court.

Even before the first prosecution witness, Bukit Aman deputy management director DCP Datuk Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani appeared in court, Uthayakumar told the court that he had another verbal application for stay of hearing.

Uthayakumar, 48, is charged with publishing a seditious letter on a website, an offence which carries a fine of up to RM5,000 or maximum three years' jail or both.

The letter dated Nov 15 was from the Hindu-based activist group, Hindraf, addressed to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at No 10, Downing Street, London