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Malaysia: Court dismisses plea seeking release of Hindraf leader

Last updated on: December 19, 2007 15:17 IST

A Malaysian court has summarily dismissed a habeas corpus petition filed for the release of one of the five ethnic Indian activists, detained under a draconian security law, for protesting against the alleged marginalisation of the community.

The application for M Manoharan, a lawyer belonging to the Hindu Rights Action Force, which is spearheading protests by ethnic Indians, was rejected by the Ipoh High Court judge on the grounds that the copy of the detention order had not been certified.

Opposition party chairman Karpal Singh, who filed the plea, told reporters that he will file fresh petitions for the release of the other detainees: Manoharan, 46, and another detainee, V Ganabathirau, 34, at the Kuala Lumpur High Court shortly.

The five ethnic Indian activists are being held at a detention camp in Kamunting in northern Malaysia, about 200 km from Kuala Lumpur, under the Internal Security Act, which allows authorities to hold people without trial for a minimum period of two years.

"This does not comply with provisions of the Rules of the High Court. As such, the application is struck out," Justice Datuk Muhamad Ideres Muhamad Rapee said in the court packed with family members and opposition party members while police maintained tight security in the area.

The habeas corpus application was filed last Friday and was fixed for mention before Judicial Commissioner Ridwan Ibrahim today.

However, Karpal Singh was informed on Monday that the case had been assigned for mention before Muhamad Ideres.

Singh, who was approximately 15 minutes late, also questioned why the judge had made the decision without waiting for him when he had been informed by other lawyers that Singh would be late.


A police crackdown on the November 25 rally by Hindraf had sparked uproar with India and other countries expressing their concern. Malaysia has denied that ethnic Indians were being marginalised.


While the five Hindraf activists were arrested on Thursday, 31 people had been earlier charged with attempt to murder for allegedly injuring a policeman during the rally.


The charge was, however, dropped on Monday. While six people were acquitted, 25 others were charged with lesser offenses and were released on bail.


Indians account for 7.8 percent of the country's population of 27 million of whom 60 percent are Muslim Malays. Twenty five percent are Chinese.

Jaishree Balasubramanian in Kuala Lumpur
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