Freed taxi driver seeks order to remove LTTE as terror group

Taxi driver V Balamurugan at a hearing in Kuala Kangsar, Perak, in November last year (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: Taxi driver V Balamurugan, who was acquitted of supporting and possessing items related to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), will pursue his legal challenge to compel the home minister to remove the defunct entity as a terrorist organisation from a gazette notification, his lawyer said.

Matthews Jude said a court declaration was important to stop investigation and prosecution against any one who showed sympathy to LTTE.

“We are seeking a court order to direct the minister to delist LTTE as a terror group,” he told reporters after case management before High Court judge Mariana Yahaya.

He said Mariana fixed June 2 to hear the judicial review application by Balamurugan.

On Friday, Attorney-General Tommy Thomas said he had decided to drop the charges against the 12 individuals accused of having links with LTTE as there was “no realistic prospect” for their conviction.

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

Thomas said defence lawyers could also argue that the declaration of LTTE as a terrorist group could be invalid or should have been revoked after a six-month review by the minister

“Balamurugan’s judicial review is on a strong footing as the AG’s media release is in support of our argument,” Jude said.

In the application, Balamurugan, 37, is seeking an order from the court to quash the notification, gazetted on Nov 12, 2014 by then home minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

He said the minister’s decision to declare LTTE as a terrorist group was untenable as the Sri Lankan army had declared the entity as a defunct organisation in 2009.

Moreover, the Swiss Federal Court had also declared last December that LTTE was not a criminal organisation, he said.

Earlier today, judicial commissioner Ahmad Shahrir Mohd Salleh acquitted Balamurugan of a charge of supporting LTTE at an event held at the Kuala Kangsar Municipal Council hall on Dec 28, 2014.

He also freed Balamurugan of three charges of possessing items with elements of terrorist acts or related to LTTE in a mobile phone at three locations in Sungai Siput on Oct 10 last year.

Deputy public prosecutor Soffian Jaafar applied for Balamurugan to be given a discharge but lawyer Omar Kutty Abdul Aziz submitted that it should be a discharge amounting to an acquittal.

Shahrir: Will you prosecute him in the near future?

Soffian: The possibility is not there.

Shahrir then ordered an acquittal, meaning Balamurugan could not be charged again with the same offences.