Put Sosma trials on hold pending repeal, says lawyer

Relatives of Sosma detainees seen outside the Sungai Buloh Prison on Saturday.

PETALING JAYA: A lawyer has urged prosecutors to apply for a stay of all trials related to the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) since the government intends to repeal the controversial procedural law.

N Sivananthan.

N Sivananthan said it would be unfair to those convicted of organised crimes as appeals to the Court of Appeal and Federal Court would proceed if Sosma is abolished.

He said a repealed law, however unfair, would still be applicable during appeals.

On the other hand, he added, those under custody whose trials had not concluded in the High Court would benefit.

“This would be extremely unfair, especially when some may be spared the use of Sosma as it may be repealed before their trial commences, while others may not be so lucky,” he said.

Sivananthan was responding to assurances by Attorney-General Tommy Thomas that Sosma would be abolished despite resistance from certain quarters within the government and the legal fraternity.

“It’s just a matter of time,” he said, adding that the matter needed careful management.

Thomas also said he was surprised that some criminal lawyers had told him off-record that Sosma was needed to deal with gangsters.

Last month, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the government would abolish Sosma, which is widely seen as a replacement for the repealed Internal Security Act.

Sivananthan urged Thomas to direct his officers to seek an immediate stay of all Sosma-related matters.

He said there were some 300 cases of individuals charged with organised crime, including human trafficking.

He also said he had been informed that some of his clients who had participated in the recent hunger strike did not intend to attend their trials unless Sosma was repealed.

“I am concerned that the trials may erupt into chaos as it will be construed as a mala fide attempt to seek conviction,” he added.

Sivananthan noted that those arrested under Sosma could be held for up to 28 days and denied bail once they were charged.

He said Sosma was a draconian law as it allowed the authorities to detain accused persons even if they were acquitted by the trial court.

“It will take two or three years for the appeals to conclude in the Federal Court. Meanwhile, the person’s liberty is affected,” he said.

He also voiced surprise at Thomas’ remark that some criminal lawyers had told him Sosma was useful.

“I can only say that these so-called criminal lawyers are a disgrace to those of us who fight for the right to a fair trial. They should perhaps seriously consider going into conveyancing,” he said.