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AP: M'sia's Highest Crt To Decide Opposition Figures' Fate
By Dow Jones

7/6/2001 7:12 pm Thu

[Keputusan Hakim Hishamuddin telah menggegarkan suasana dan pihak konspirator sekali lagi terkena. Rakyat menaruh harapan kepada institusi kehakiman negara di bawah Hakim Dzaiddin untuk membuktikan di mana ia berpijak sebenarnya. Nampaknya kemenangan sudah semakin tidak lagi berpihak kepada Mahathir. Rakyat perlu berhimpun beramai-ramai memuji dan menyokong tindakkan Hakim Hishamuddin agar hakim lain tidak takut untuk menegakkan keadilan. Ini adalah satu perang saikologi yang cukup penting kerana Mahathir juga menggunakan tektik sebegini.
- Editor
] pi_news_id=707555&pi_ctry=my&pi_lang=en

Malaysia's Highest Crt To Decide Opposition Figures' Fate

KUALA LUMPUR (AP)--Rejecting government lawyers' objections, Malaysia's highest court said Wednesday it would proceed with a trial to decide if police had acted illegally in jailing five opposition activists without trial.

The five - all linked to the opposition National Justice Party, or Keadilan - were held by police in solitary confinement for almost two months until last week, when one was released and Home Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi ordered that the others be sent to a prison camp for up to two years.

The five are among 10 supporters of jailed former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim who were arrested in April under Malaysia's tough Internal Security Act, which allows indefinite detention without trial on the government's order.

A high court judge last month rejected the five's claim that police were acting illegally in detaining them. They appealed, and the Federal Court convened a rare five-judge panel led by Mohamad Dzaiddin Abdullah, the country's top judge, to hear the case.

When the case began Wednesday, government lawyers asked the judges to immediately dismiss the appeal on grounds that the detainees were no longer in police custody and were now being held under government order.

"The issue is whether the police can release them, (but) they are no longer with the police," said Adbul Gani Patail, the senior government lawyer.

Chief Justice Dzaiddin rejected the argument, saying: "The issues are still alive." He set hearing dates for the trial of July 9-11.

Lawyers say the detainees' case has been bolstered by a High Court judge's ruling in a separate court challenge by two other opposition figures arrested in the April crackdown. That judge found that the arrests were illegal, and ordered the detainees to be freed.

Two other detainees still in police custody are planning to start a court challenge to their detentions soon.

Of the 10 opposition figures arrested, two have been freed on a judge's order, two have been released by police, two are in police custody, and four are in the Kamunting prison camp.

Opposition leaders say the arrests were a crackdown ordered by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's government to quell dissent against his 20-year rule.

Police allege the group threatened national security by plotting violent demonstrations to overthrow Mahathir's government, although they have refused opposition demands to produce detailed evidence.

Under the act, police can hold people for 60 days during an investigation. After that, the home minister can order further detention for two years. The order is renewable. At no time is a detainee required to be brought before a court under the law.

Keadilan is led by Anwar's wife. Anwar is serving prison terms totaling 15 years for s###my and corruption on charges he says were concocted to prevent him from challenging Mahathir's power. The government denies any conspiracy.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires 06-06-01