Uthayakumar released with conditions, court told

(Bernama) – P Uthayakumar's release from Internal Security Act (ISA) detention in May was with conditions, the High Court was told today.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Noorin Badaruddin said the Hindraf lawyer was released subject to seven restrictions set out in the directive to suspend the detention order by the Home Ministry dated 8 May.

Among others, Uthayakumar was not allowed to leave the area of his residence and change his place of residence except with the Inspector-General of Police's written permission, she said.

"Therefore, if the court allows Uthayakumar's application for the return of his travel document, it would breach the Home Ministry's directive," she said in objecting to Uthayakumar's application for the return of his passport from the court on the grounds of seeking medical treatment abroad.

"A passport is not an applicant's absolute ownership. It is issued in the name of His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and under the control of the home minister. Therefore the right to travel overseas can be denied if there are criminal charges against the applicant," she said.

"The applicant also did not furnish any evidence that he is sick and requires treatment overseas, and there is no proof that the treatment claimed cannot be obtained in our country," Noorin added.

Uthayakumar, who was represented by counsel N Surendran, also sought a reduction of the RM50,000 bail imposed on him by a Sessions Court judge in 2007.

On 11 Dec 2007, Uthayakumar pleaded not guilty in the Sessions Court to publishing a seditious letter on a website. The charge under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act 1948 carries a fine not exceeding RM5,000, or imprisonment up to three years, or both.

Two days later, Uthayakumar was detained under the ISA following his involvement in street demonstrations here on 25 Nov 2007 and seditious remarks against the government.

Surendran argued that the RM50,000 bail imposed on his client was excessive, and the additional condition for his travel document to be handed over to the court was wrong.

He said no additional conditions could be imposed on Uthayakumar because the offence under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act was bailable.

Lawyer Karpal Singh had also been charged in a sessions court in March with an offence under the Act, but the bail imposed was only RM2,000 and there was no additional condition, he said.

In reply, Noorin said, "It is improper to equate Karpal's case with that of the applicant because the facts in the two cases are different and Karpal is not under a restriction order."

Surendran, who was dissatisfied with the words "Hindraf extremist group" in the restriction directive, added: "The restrictive conditions by the Home Ministry should not be taken into account because it was made with malice (sic) intent. In this case, the real extremists are the home minister and Barisan Nasional government."

Judicial Commissioner Zainal Azman Ab Aziz  fixed 10 July to deliver his decision.