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Malaysian AG drops LTTE charges against 12 men

Charges against twelve Malaysian Tamils accused of being involved with former LTTE members have been dropped. The twelve men were arrested under the Security Offences Special Measures Act (SOSMA) last October for allegedly supporting former LTTE leaders.

Attorney General Tommy Thomas advised that holding photographs of former LTTE leaders on their mobile phones do not establish a criminal offence. The Attorney General released an eleven-page statement outlining the law and its application to the case built against the twelve men.

He stated that the public may "admire" many different people in response to the accusations of photographs of former LTTE leader Velupillai Prabakaran found on the men's phones. 

“Thus, millions of people across the globe admire Lenin, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung or Che Guevara, and the like.“No realistic prospect of conviction for the dozen accused on any of the 34 charges,” he said pointing out that they had not committed any actual crimes. 

“Accordingly, in the exercise of my discretion pursuant to Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution, I have decided to discontinue proceedings against them with immediate effect."

The Attorney General highlighted that “it is commonplace to have idols to whom hero worship is displayed. It is not just pop stars, sportsmen or actors who are admired: historical personalities and politicians are often the subjects of adoration.

“The charges relating to the other six accused concern offences allegedly occurring in January and October 2019 but by this time, even if LTTE was still gazetted under our laws as a terrorist group, the defence will contend that the LTTE has not been responsible for violence even in its home country, Sri Lanka in 2019, let alone having any impact on the ordinary affairs of ordinary people in Malaysia.

Sevan Doraisamy, executive director of human rights organisation Suaram, who was actively involved in the campaigning of the release of the twelve men is now pushing for Thomas to reconsider other SOSMA arrests. 

With many of these arrests made for similar reasons such as holding photographs of leaders on their mobile phones, Doraisamy says the remaining SOSMA cases are now a “big question mark.”

He also expressed that: “It is disheartening that citizens could be arrested, charged and incarcerated without bail for a prolonged period on charges with no prospect of conviction.”

See more here and here.