DEFENCE IS CALLED
Today, the Magistrate, Puan Juliana Mohamed in the case of Irene Fernandez, charged under Section 8A of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, ruled that I am to enter my defence.
According to the Magistrate, the Prosecution has proven their case beyond
reasonable doubt that the contents of the Memorandum which was published
are false. In her opinion the Prosecution has discharged its burden
of proving its case beyond reasonable doubt. However, I note
that the Prosecution did not produce a single one of the 36 detainees that they said they had interviewed and taken statements under Section 112 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
In my view, the Prosecution relied heavily on the evidence of police
and government officers who would be expected to serve their own interests.
The Prosecution had conceded that 42 detainees had died while under police
custody, yet, despite repeated requests, the post mortem reports
were not produced. In fact the defence application that the Prosecution be ordered to produce the reports was dismissed.
At the end of the Prosecution case, the Prosecution offered 145 witnesses
to the defence. The defence had requested on 4 November 1998 for
all the detainees in the witness list as well as the police officer in
Kajang who had conducted the inquiry into the deaths of the detainees in
the camp, to be made available to the defence to be interviewed. Subsequently,
two reminders ( 4.12.98 and 26.1.99) were sent to the Prosecution.
However, till today the Prosecution has failed to
produce any one of these detainees to the Defence.
The defence intends to call about 30 witnesses. Unlike the Prosecution we will bring ex-detainees to testify as they are the best people who will have intimate knowledge of the actual conditions in the camp. We believe that the truth will be revealed.
As I have stated right from the onset, I should never have been charged
because of the Memorandum. Section 8A of the Printing Presses and
Publications Act 1984, violates our fundamental rights to freedom of expression.
As long as this law remains we can never really achieve our aim of
accountability and transparency in our society.