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Friday, August 4, 2017

Cops seek to bond Gatco protestors



The police will seek to impose a behavioural bond on the Kampung Gatco villagers who were arrested after preventing the landowner from removing logs from the village.
Jempol district police headquarters investigating officer Superintendent Norzaini Mohd Noor confirmed this with Malaysiakini.
"We are under orders from the deputy public prosecutor from the attorney-general's chambers to apply Section 67 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
"The case will be heard on Aug 11 at the Bahau Magistrates Court," he said while declining to elaborate on grounds for the move.
The 28 Kampung Gatco residents have been issued notices to attend the hearing.
Section 67 concerns "security for keeping the peace" and allows the magistrate to execute a bond, with or without sureties, on persons who are "likely to commit a breach of peace or to do any wrongful act that may probably occasion to a breach of peace" for a period, not more than six months.
The onus is on the defendants to prove to the magistrate that their actions will not constitute a breach of peace.
During a press conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, the villagers' lawyer S Karthigesan said the bond would restrict them from defending their homes.
"If this bond is granted, the villagers won't be able to block lorries from coming into the Gatco estate anymore, even though the issue is subject to an ongoing civil suit in court," said the lawyer.
On July 18, villagers blocked a lorry from removing rubber logs and were subsequently arrested.
Police later applied for a three-day remand order but it was overturned by the Seremban High Court after the judge ruled that there were insufficient grounds for the remand and expressed her concern over the health of the 14 women detained, most of them senior citizens.
The villagers claimed that they have a right to prevent the removal of logs because of the pending suit between 140 villagers and Thamarai Holdings Sdn Bhd. The matter will be heard by the Court of Appeal on Sept 14.
The estate was sold after the original leaseholder, the Great Alonioners Trading Corporation Bhd (Gatco), after which the village was named, was declared bankrupt.
Dangerous precedent
Meanwhile, S Karthigesan was concerned that the bond application would set a dangerous precedent for all activists.
"It is possible for police to use Section 67 to hold activists anywhere in the country, stopping them from holding demonstrations," he said.
Parti Sosialis Malaysia central committee member S Arutchelvan, who also represents the villagers, said at the press conference that the section was "bad for all activists".
"They (the authorities) won't need to charge activists in court before telling them they have been punished, that they can't do anything. Even if your case hasn't been in heard in court.

"It's like you're getting a sentence without a trial," he said.
Human rights lawyer P Uthayakumar, who in 2007 led the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) rally, concurred, citing his personal experience with Section 67.
"This is the same section they used on us just two days before the Hindraf rally. We had not even been given the right to be heard in court when one of the limbs of natural justice is that both parties need to be heard.
"So it's possible to use Section 67 to restrict activists. The section is an abuse of the process of court because the magistrate 'may' require the defendant to be heard, but it's not a requirement," he told Malaysiakini when contacted. - Mkini

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