Govt applies for unprecedented trial venue switch for Sri Lankan envoy

Ibrahim-Sahib-courtPETALINGA JAYA: Putrajaya has filed an application, on the request of the Sri Langkan ambassador to Malaysia, to transfer a criminal trial from the Sepang court to Kuala Lumpur on security grounds.

Last September, three men were charged with rioting and assaulting ambassador Ibrahim Sahib Ansar at the KLIA airport.

The unprecedented application was filed by the public prosecutor, with Sahib filing an affidavit in support of moving the court.

The application in January was made under Section 417 (d) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) for the High Court to grant an order for the general convenience of a witness.

Sahib said he believed that his safety was not guaranteed if he were to attend the trial in the Sepang Sessions Court as witness because large groups of Tamils had gathered there during the last two case managements.

He said he was still traumatised by the Sept 4 brutal attack on him at the KLIA, a public area which should have tight security measures.

“I fear for my safety and security if the trial is to be continued in Sepang,” he said, adding that he lodged a police report in January to express his concern.

He said he felt safer to have the trial heard in the Kuala Lumpur court as security measures there were tighter and better.

Sahib claimed Tamil groups had attempted to harm the staff of the Sri Langkan High Commission and a former prime minister at a Buddhist temple during his visit to Malaysia.

Government lawyer Suhaimi Ibrahim today told the High Court that Sahib would be reluctant to come to Sepang as the court was located in a secluded area.

Lawyer M Manoharan, who is appearing for the accused – A Kalaimughilan, V Balamurugan and V Ragunathan – said the application was an insult to the Malaysian judiciary, court staff and the police force.

“This will open the floodgates for witnesses to make such an application,” he said, adding that there was no material evidence that Sahib’s safety and security was at stake.

He said the ambassador could employ security officers to take care of his safety while in the court premises.

Justice Nordin Hassan said it did not matter what Sahib felt but rather whether he could use his discretion judiciously to approve the application.

He advised the lawyers to provide him further submissions on the legal position in Singapore and India as Section 417 of the CPC in Malaysia was similar to those countries.

Nordin will deliver his ruling on April 20.