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Malaysia: 31 ethnic Indians face attempt to murder charge
December 05, 2007 20:01 IST
A Malaysian court on Wednesday refused to throw out attempt to murder charges against 31 ethnic Indians for allegedly causing injury to a policeman during a rally last month, rejecting the defence's contention that the case was 'racially and politically motivated'. If convicted, they face 20 years behind bars.
All 31 have pleaded not guilty. While 26 people were charged on Tuesday with attempt to murder, five more ethnic Indians were slapped with the same charge on Wednesday in connection with the protest organised by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) near the Sri Subramaniar Temple in Batu Caves on November 25 to protest the alleged marginalisation of the community in the multi-racial country.
"The charges have basis and are not defective," sessions court judge Azimah Omar ruled. Judge Azimah ordered that all the accused, aged between 18 and 45, be detained at the Shah Alam police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.
Submissions for bail will be heard on Thursday, the judge said. Seventeen lawyers, led by M Manoharan, were representing the accused. However, three lawyers withdrew from the case without stating any reason.
The country's attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail made a personal appearance at the sessions court to lay charges, which was questioned by the defence, saying it would intimidate the judge.
Terming the case as vindictive and malicious, defence lawyers said the charges amounted to a violation of the constitutional right to worship and assemble.
K Ganesan, the defence counsel, claimed that 500 policemen had fired tear gas and water cannons on the crowd after locking the temple gate and had beaten up worshippers.