Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lawyers sue cops for 'unlawful' arrest

By FMT Staff

KUALA LUMPUR: Six lawyers, one of whom is a member of Parliament, filed a civil suit at the high court here this morning over their “unlawful” arrest and detention three years ago.

The lawyers, Subang MP R Sivarasa, N Surendran, Latheefa Koya, Eric Paulsen, Amer Hamzah and Johny Andu were arrested during the Human Rights Day walk on Dec 9, 2007.

They named former Dang Wangi district police chief Che Hamzah Che Ismail as the first defendant.

According to a statement by Laywers for Liberty, Hamzah had acted as the “ground commander” for the operation even though he had given permission for the participants to walk.

Also named as co-defendants were the inspector-general of police, the Home Ministry and the government.

“The unlawful arrest and detention led to them being detained overnight in the police lock-up and charged the next day on exaggerated, malicious and frivolous charges under Section 143 and 145 of the Penal Code (unlawful assembly with the intention to cause public nuisance) and alternatively under Section 27 of the Police Act (unlawful assembly).

“During the charge, Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail had outrageously and in bad faith tried to object to the bail application on the ground that since the accused persons had not adhered to the police warning not to assemble and walk, they posed a threat to national security,” read the statement.

However, bail was granted to the lawyers on a “personal bond” of RM2,000 without surety.

“On April 16, 2009, at the end of the prosecution’s case, the judge bravely discharged and acquitted the accused persons of all charges,” said Lawyers for Liberty.

In addition to the “unlawful arrest and detention”, the six also claimed to be victims of “malicious prosecution” as the facts and circumstances of the case do not support such charges at all, and that the police had “falsely and maliciously” implicated them.

As a result of these acts, the lawyers were among other things claiming for a declaration that their constitutional rights had been violated and that the police acted wrongfully and unlawfully.

They were also claiming exemplary and aggravated damages.