2008 candlelight vigil not illegal, rules court
NO PERMIT NEEDED: 'Gathering was not pre-planned'
PETALING JAYA: TWENTY-ONE people, including a member of parliament and a Catholic priest, were acquitted of taking part in an assembly four years ago without their defence being called.
The 21, who included Petaling Jaya Utara member of parliament Tony Pua and Rev Paulino Francesco Miranda, were also freed from the charge of failing to comply with police orders to disperse.
They were alleged to have taken part in the candlelight vigil in front of the Petaling Jaya City Council building between 9.50pm and 10.10pm on Nov 9, 2008.
They were also said to have disobeyed the then PJ deputy police chief Superintendent Mohamad Shukor Sulong's order to disperse.
Both the charges under Section 27 of the Police Act carried a maximum fine of RM10,000, and up to a year in jail.
In her judgment, Sessions Court judge Hayatul Akmal Abdul Aziz ruled there were gaps in the prosecution's case, adding there was no evidence to support the contention that the assembly was pre-planned or pre-organised.
"It was a spontaneous gathering, and as such, did not require a permit," she said.
"The fact that they wore T-shirts which called for the abolishment of the Internal Security Act (ISA) was not enough proof to show that it was an organised gathering."
Hayatul said the court needed more proof that it was an illegal assembly beyond the fact that they were wearing T-shirts against the ISA or that they sang Negaraku.
She also said she found no evidence to show that the 21 actively took part in the gathering. On the charge of failing to comply with the order to disperse, the judge found that the prosecution witnesses contradicted each other. "They were not credible witnesses."
Also charged were Selangor executive council member Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, Kampung Tunku assemblyman Lau Weng San, K. Raman, G. Ramish, Augustine Gun, Andrew Ng, Ashok Kandiah, Lim Chen Inn, Ooi Suan Huah, Ambrose Poh, Johny Andu, K. Thenagaran, Ong Boon Keong, Mohd Fasya Tajudin, Goh Jin Kiat, Henry Hor, Mohd Khairul Anuar Mohd Jamil, Goh Chien Yee and Tiew Way Keng.
Deputy public prosecutor Lailawati Ali appeared for the prosecution while Gobind Singh Deo, Francis Pereira and Norazreen Abdul Rahman represented the 21 accused. A large crowd had turned up for the decision at the end of prosecution's case. The 21 were charged in January 2009. A total of 21 witnesses testified.