KUANTAN: The 18 farmers, detained for allegedly encroaching into a permanent forest reserve in Raub, have been remanded for two days.
The remand order was granted by assistant court registrar Yusri Wanu Suki this morning.
Lawyer Chan Yen Hui, who represented the farmers, said the Forestry Department had initially asked the magistrate for a four-day remand citing several reasons, including the officers needing more time to record the statement from the large group of farmers.
"We argued that the farmers were arrested at 1.30pm yesterday (Sunday) and the authorities have sufficient time to record their statement. After hearing the submission from both parties the court agreed to allow a two-day remand till Tuesday midnight," she said.
The farmers were also represented by Samantha Chong Yin Xin and Collin Arvind Andrew.
Meanwhile, Samantha said the defence argued it was unnecessary to put the farmers in the lockup as the police who had initially investigated them under Section 186 of the Penal Code for obstructing a public servant from carrying out their duties, had released them on police bail.
"Section 186 appears to be a more serious offence, but the farmers were given police bail and the police did not apply for a remand. Looking at the case above, the remand under the National Forestry Act 1984 is unjustifiable.
"The farmers are prepared to provide full cooperation throughout the investigation, and they are willing to come to the police station whenever required," she said.
The suspects were earlier brought in a police lorry to the Raub Magistrate's Court today about 11am.
Present at the court complex were several elected representatives including Raub member of parliament Tengku Zulpuri Shah Raja Puji.
The 18 individuals believed to be illegal durian farmers were detained for allegedly trespassing into the Batu Talam permanent forest reserve in Raub yesterday.
They are investigated under Section 47 of the National Forestry Act 1984 for entering the forest reserve without permission.
Meanwhile, Pahang Criminal Investigation Department chief Senior Assistant Commissioner Mohd Yusri Othman said the 18 farmers, including a woman were detained yesterday.
"They were initially investigated under Section 186 of the Penal Code for obstructing a public servant from carrying out their duties and Section 427 for causing mischief. They were later released on police bail.
"However, the Forestry department has initiated investigations for entering the forest reserve and they have been remanded to assist the department with their probe," he said.