Lawyer ticks off cops for questioning sister of man charged with LTTE links

Gooi Hsiao Leung talks to the parents of Pumugan Mahalingam at his Bukit Tengah service centre in George Town, Penang. On his left is Punaghi, Pumugan’s sister.

BUKIT MERTAJAM: A Penang PKR leader has criticised the police for summoning the sister of one of the 12 men accused of links with the Tamil Tigers militant group.

Bukit Tengah assemblyman Gooi Hsiao Leung said the action by police to question Punaghi Mahalingam, the sister of Pumugan Mahalingam who was arrested under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 or Sosma, amounted to harassment as he was already charged in court.

“Any further probes should have been completed before he was charged. The whole exercise of recording a statement from his sister at this time has only added further emotional distress and suffering on Pumugan’s family,” Gooi, who met family members of Pumugan at his service centre here, told reporters today.

“This is an unnecessary harassment and a fishing expedition,” he said.

Gooi, who is the lawyer acting on behalf of Pumugan, said the public prosecutor should reconsider the charges against him.

He said Penal Code charges are typically reserved for serious terrorist offences which carry a life sentence.

He said Pumugan’s only crime was for possessing a T-shirt bearing a picture of the late leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and sharing pictures and videos related to the group on Facebook.

“If this is all the evidence the prosecution has on Pumugan, I believe the Attorney-General’s Chambers has committed a grave error of judgement for charging him with the most serious offence which carries life imprisonment.

“This is totally unjustifiable, no matter how you look at it. The AG should drop this case and offer him bail until Pumugan is found guilty,” he added.

Gooi said Pumugan’s trial could take one or two years, depriving him of his freedom as he is denied bail.

“He is innocent until proven guilty.

“He should be released on bail and reunited with his family. What is happening goes against the spirit of a new Malaysia,” said Gooi.