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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Malaysian court denies bail to 31 Indians

KUALA LUMPUR: A Malaysian court on Thursday refused to grant bail to 31 ethnic Indians charged with attempted murder of a policeman during a massive protest against alleged marginalisation here last month, saying the case involved "national security" and not "racial and religious issues".
Sessions Court Judge Azimah Omar said the court had taken into account the fact that public interest precedes the interests of all the accused.
"This case is not an ordinary case but involves the accused who are alleged to have participated in an illegal gathering and a gathering does not involve only the accused but also the general public."
"The gathering also involves national security and does not involve racial and religious issues and on these grounds, the court is not allowing bail for all the accused," the judge declared.
She also noted that bail could not be given as all of them were facing a charge under Section 307 of the Malaysian Penal Code, namely attempted murder, which is non-bailable except at the court's discretion.
Also refusing to entertain the bail application of three accused ethnic Indians on grounds of bad health, the judge said the defence had failed to furnish clear evidence.
One of the accused was said to have a kidney problem and required haemodialysis but the dialysis card submitted was not clear, while no medical records had been given to the court in respect of another accused who was said to be suffering from heart disease, national news agency Bernama quoted the judge as saying.
The judge said 18 pictures in the form of computer images that were submitted to the court on Wednesday as a ground for bail were not authenticated.
If convicted, the men face 20 years behind bars. All 31 have pleaded not guilty. Seventeen lawyers are representing the accused. However, three lawyers withdrew from the case without stating any reason.
At least 10,000 ethnic Indians took part in an "illegal" demonstration organised by NGO Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) on November 25 to protest against alleged marginalisation of Indians in Malaysia.

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