Monday, September 15, 2008

Trial of Hindraf 66 postponed to next year

The trial of the 66 Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) supporters charged for illegal assembly and causing mischief was postponed to next year by the Sessions Court here on Monday.

Judge M. Gunalan fixed March 24 to 27, May 11 to 15 and July 6 to 10 as trial dates.

Padang Serai MP N. Gobalakrishnan was among the 66 accused, aged between 20 and 56.

Five out of the 66 men failed to turn up in court on Monday, and this prompted Gunalan to warn that warrants of arrest would be issued if they failed to attend their hearing next year.

He also ordered the five men to give the court valid reasons for their absence.

The five were E. Segaran, S. Gunaseelan, J. Prakash, S. Ravi and R. Vijayndran.

Businessman K.P Samy, who had posted bail for all the accused, was asked to explain why the five were absent.

Samy, who posted bail by pledging the title of his land worth RM410, 000 to the court, said he was not able to contact some of those who were not present.

Defence counsels G. Naidu and G.K Ganesan also appealed for Gobalakrishnan’s passport, being held by the court, to be handed back to him.

Ganesan said many things had changed since the arrests last year and Gobalakrishnan was now an elected representative and needed his passport.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ahmad Kamal Arifin Ismail objected to the request and suggested that Gobalakrishnan apply to obtain the passport temporarily whenever he wanted to leave the country.

However, Gunalan, who said that this arrangement would be too inconvenient, ordered for Gobalakrishnan’s passport to be returned to him for the duration of his tenure as an elected representative.

Initially 69 people, including five students, were charged for participation in an illegal assembly at Batu Caves on Nov 25 and for causing mischief by damaging seven vehicles at the Sri Subramaniam Temple premises there between 1am and 8am on the same day.

The prosecution withdrew the charge of causing mischief against the students but maintained the charge of participating in an illegal assembly against two of them.

The other 64 people face both charges.

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