Ex-airman’s habeas corpus case fixed to later date
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 4 — The High Court here has fixed January 17 to hear former airman N. Tharmendran’s habeas corpus application against his detention by the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF).
It had earlier set today to hear the application from the former sergeant to be released after being detained by RMAF provost marshalls outside the Shah Alam court complex on November 25.
He was detained for alleged desertion after attending a court hearing at the Shah Alam High Court to have a charge against him dropped.
Tharmendran (picture) is accused of abetting Senior Airman Mohamad Shukri Mohamad Yusop in the theft of two jet fighter engines in 2008 in a high-profile case that could potentially embarrass the Defence Ministry that was then helmed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
That is the second time the case has been postponed after it first came before judge Datuk Su Geok Yiam on December 3.
The hearing was supposed to be held on December 10 but was postponed till today to give time to all the respondents, who are represented by the Defence Ministry’s assistant legal adviser Mohamad Tarmizi Ahmad, to file their affidavits-in-reply.
The hearing today was converted to case management in accordance with the new court system.
Tharmendran’s counsel Amer Hamzah Arshad told reporters outside the court that the later date was set because of a last-minute affidavit filed by the first respondent last Thursday.
The former sergeant has been detained at the Batu Cantonment Camp since November 25 and filed the writ the next day, naming Batu Cantonment Camp commandant Lt-Colonel Mohd Razif Ramli, RMAF chief Gen Tan Sri Rodzali Daud and the Defence Ministry as respondents.
In his affidavit, Tharmendran, 42, had claimed that his arrest by the RMAF on November 25 was mala fide.
N. Surendran, a witness in the habeas corpus application hearing who was previously also Tharmendran’s counsel, told reporters outside the courtroom today that he was disappointed that such an urgent hearing had just been taken off “just like that”.
“The authorities in this country are really using a hammer to kill a fly,” he said, referring to the multiple postponements of hearings, the “unlawful” detention even though Tharmendran was out on bail, and the additional money-laundering charges, among others.
The High Court had previously dismissed Tharmendran’s application to strike out the charges over the theft of two fighter jet engines on December 17, citing failure to prove that there was any outside intervention in the court process.
Tharmendran is accused of abetting Mohamad Shukri in the theft at the Material Processing Shed, Matra 1 warehouse, at the air force base in Sungai Besi in 2008.
Tharmendran and company director K. Rajandran Prasad were jointly charged in the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court on January 6, 2010 although Mohamad Shukri has yet to be charged with any offence.
Surendran claimed that the jet engine theft was “the tip of the iceberg” and that the authorities are covering up more serious items which are missing as well.
“It seems to be the way of the courts operating under the chief justice that it is only about efficiency, fulfilling KPIs, clearing backlogs and not quality,” he said of Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi.
Tharmendran is accused of stealing the engines in December 2007 at the Subang RMAF air base.
He was arrested on September 1 last year, and if convicted faces up to 10 years’ jail and a fine.
Rajandran is accused of disposing of the engines on April 30, 2008.
In August, Tharmendran was also charged with three counts of money laundering involving RM62,000 while Prasad was charged with five counts involving RM437,000.
The theft was a major embarrassment to the government following reports later that the country’s first submarine — KD Tunku Abdul Rahman — could not dive in tropical waters.
Najib had vowed that there would be no cover-up in the high-profile case which occurred during his tenure as defence minister while the current minister, Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, has claimed that it was an inside job. - Malaysian Insider