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Friday, May 8, 2009

Lawyers gather to protest arrest of colleagues

A police officer tries to get the lawyers to break up their protest at the court complex.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 8 2009 — Mlaysianinsider

Hundreds of lawyers have formed a sea of black and white at the Jalan Duta courts to protest the detention of five of their colleagues.

The five lawyers were arrested last night at the Brickfields police station, where they had gone to represent their clients who were detained for allegedly participating in an illegal candlelight vigil for activist Wong Chin Huat.

Wong was arrested for sedition earlier this week after he called on Malaysians to wear black yesterday to protest the power grab in Perak.

His arrest was among a clutch made by the authorities in a sign of growing unease over the level of dissent sparked by Barisan Nasional’s (BN) controversial takeover of the Perak state government from Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

Yesterday’s Perak state assembly sitting descended into chaos with scuffles and wrestling matches between lawmakers from both sides and resulted in the police entering a legislative assembly for the first time in the country’s history of parliamentary democracy.

The Bar Council has already described yesterday’s events as a black day for democracy and heavily criticised the police for interference.

This morning its president Ragunath Kesavan again condemned the police over the arrests of his colleagues.

“We are shocked and disgusted by this blatant transgression of the rule of law. By their action, the police personnel in question have demonstrated utter disrespect and blatant disregard for the criminal justice system that they are duty-bound to uphold and protect.

Senior lawyers arguing with police officers who wanted the lawyers to break up their protest.

“They have violated the specific provisions in the Criminal Procedure Code guaranteeing access to lawyers. Although there is an exception to this provision, it cannot by any stretch of the imagination be turned into a right to arrest lawyers who are waiting to render legal representation to their clients,” he said in a statement issued this morning.”

He said the police action made an absolute mockery of the constitutional right to legal representation and was a travesty of justice.

“We call on the Inspector-General of Police to immediately explain this gross abuse of police power.

“This unprecedented conduct by the police has far-reaching consequences. It means arrested persons can be denied access to their lawyers without challenge. And when their lawyers are denied access and are forced to wait outside the police station, the lawyers themselves are at risk of arrest. “

The five lawyers arrested yesterday were from the Kuala Lumpur Legal Aid Centre.

They are Fadiah Nadwa Binti Fikri, Murnie Hidayah Binti Anuar, Puspawati Binti Rosman, Ravinder Singh Dhalliwal and Syuhaini Binti Safwan.

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