AG drops charges against 12 accused of supporting LTTE

Some of the accused during a recent court appearance.

PETALING JAYA: Attorney-General Tommy Thomas has decided to drop the charges against the 12 individuals accused of having links to the now-defunct group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Thomas said there was “no realistic prospect” for the conviction of the 12 under any of the 34 charges brought against them.

“Millions of people across the globe admire Lenin, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung or Che Guevara, and the like. Having their photos and other representations in one’s mobile phone or on a Facebook account does not transform one to being a terrorist.

“Just because each of these leaders used terror or violence to achieve their political goals does not mean that an ardent supporter online should be regarded as a terrorist or is planning a terrorist act.

“That is the common theme of all the 12 LTTE accused. Each of them had in his mobile phone or Facebook account photos of Velupillai Prabhakaran and other leaders of LTTE slain during the Civil War in Sri Lanka, ” he said in a statement today.

Thomas said the law would be brought into “disrepute” if the men could be charged simply for having the photos of the LTTE leaders.

“As Public Prosecutor, I must conduct myself in a manner which will maintain, promote and defend the interest of justice,” he said.

“I must be satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction against each suspect on each charge. In reaching that judgment, I must exercise discretion responsibly and impartially.”

He added that it would be impossible to establish that the men did not fall under the excluded category of Section 130B(4) of the Penal Code, where acts of advocacy, protest, dissent or industrial action which are not intended to cause death, serious injury or risk to public safety are not considered terrorist acts.

“Accordingly, in the exercise of my discretion pursuant to Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution, I have decided to discontinue proceedings against them with immediate effect.”

The men were detained under Security Offences (Special Measures) Act, or Sosma, since October last year for their alleged links to the LTTE – a defunct militant organisation that tried to create an independent Tamil state in Sri Lanka.

The 12, including two DAP assemblymen, have constantly denied their involvement in LTTE, stating that the flags, posters and pictures found in their possession meant they only sympathised with the plight of the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka.

The two assemblymen are Melaka’s Gadek representative G Saminathan and Seremban Jaya assemblyman P Gunasekaran.

Between 60,000 and 100,000 Tamil civilians died during a 27-year civil war in Sri Lanka, according to figures from the United Nations.

The police had previously said LTTE had been classified as a terrorist organisation by Malaysia under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act (Amla).