AG drops court cases against 12, including DAP reps, accused of supporting LTTE

Danial Dzulkifly

Attorney General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court February 17, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 21 — The Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) today announced that the government is discontinuing prosecution of 12 Malaysians it had charged with supporting the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which included two DAP lawmakers.

Attorney General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas said the decision was made after finding insufficient evidence to back its prosecution that would lead to a “realistic prospect of conviction”.

“For these reasons, I have decided that there is no realistic prospect of conviction for any of the 12 accused on any of the 34 charges.

“Accordingly, in the exercise of my discretion pursuant to Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution, I have decided to discontinue proceedings against them with immediate effect,” he said in a statement.

Among those charged were Melaka state executive councillor G. Saminathan and a Negri Sembilan state lawmaker P. Gunasekaran.

The DAP duo along with 10 others were accused of posting social media messages or possessing materials related to LTTE founder, Velupillai Prabhakaran.

“That is the common theme of all the 12 LTTE accused. Each of them had in his mobile phone or Facebook account photos of Prabhakaran and other leaders of LTTE slain during the Civil War in Sri Lanka. If such conduct can constitute a criminal offence, it would bring the law into disrepute.

“But even if there were elements of a ‘terrorist act’ on the part of all or any of the 12 LTTE accused by possessing, distributing or displaying such photos or Prabhakaran, it would be impossible for the prosecution to establish that they do not fall within the excluded category of Section 130B(4) of the Penal Code in that they merely constitute ‘advocacy, protest or dissent’,” Thomas explained.

He added that a show of support for famous or infamous personalities is common, but it does not necessarily dictate a person’s actions.

“It is commonplace to have idols to whom hero worship is displayed. It is not just pop stars, sportsmen or actors who are admired: historical personalities and politicians are often the subject of adoration.

“Thus, millions of people across the globe admire Lenin, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung or Che Guevara, and the like. Having their photos and other representations in one’s mobile phone or on a Facebook account does not transform one to being a terrorist.

“Just because each of these leaders used terror or violence to achieve their political goals does not mean that an ardent supporter online should be regarded as a terrorist or is planning a terrorist act,” he said.

Last October, Seremban Jaya assemblyman Gunasekaran and Gadek assemblyman Saminathan from the DAP and 10 other Malaysians were charged under Section 130 of the Penal Code with supporting terrorism for their alleged links to the LTTE—a defunct Sri Lankan separatist group.

The other 10 were named as: corporate CEO S. Chandru, V. Balamurugan, S. Teran, A. Kalaimughilan, S. Arivainthan, S. Thanagaraj, M. Pumugan, R. Sundram, V. Suresh Kumar and B. Subramaniam.

All were detained at the Sungai Buloh Prison under the Security Offences Act (Special Measures) Act 2012 pending trial and bailed refused.

Under the law, they could have been sentenced to jail for life (which is a maximum of 30 years), or a fine and can have any of their properties used in the offence confiscated, if trial had continued and they were convicted.

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