Hindraf leader loses sedition appeal, sent back to jail


(MM) – Hindu rights activist P. Uthayakumar lost his bid today to appeal his 30-month jail sentence for sedition after a High Court here upheld last year’s Sessions Court ruling on the matter.

In delivering his decision this morning, High Court judge Datuk Mohd Azman Husin said the lower court had not erred in meting out the punishment against Uthayakumar, who is the brother fellow rights activist and Hindraf chief P. Waytha Moorthy.

Mohd Azman said he will provide his grounds for dismissing Uthayakumar’s appeal in a written judgement later on.

Uthayakumar, an Indian rights activist and lawyer, was present in court and listened calmly as the judge delivered his decision. His wife S. Indra Devi was also present.

After the judgment was delivered, a number of Uthayakumar’s supporters seated in the public gallery silently lifted their hands to the leader after he left the court.

On June 5 last year, Uthayakumar was given a 2½-year jail sentence for writing seditious remarks in a 2007 letter to former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The former Internal Security Act (ISA) detainee’s jail sentence was meted just hours after his brother Waythamoorthy was sworn in as a senator in the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government following the May 5 general election.

Recently, Waythamoorthy abruptly quit his post as a deputy minister in the Barisan Nasional (BN) administration and has apologised for failing to fulfill Hindraf’s pledges of socio-economic reforms to the poor within the Indian community.

Today, Uthayakumar’s lawyer M. Manoharan said he will be filing an appeal at the Court of Appeal within this week.

“We will be filing an appeal on both the conviction and sentence,” the lawyer told reporters when met at the court complex here.

Noting that Uthayakumar was due to finish serving his jail term next February 15, just a year away, Manoharan said he will urge the court to speed up the appeal to prevent it from being “nugatory”, or of no importance.

“We will be filing a certificate of urgency for the appeal to be heard fast,” he said.

Manoharan cited prison authorities when saying that Uthayakumar will be released in February next year.

He also claimed that the 30-month jail sentence for his client was too “excessive” and pointed out that the federal government had previously indicated that it would abolish the Sedition Act 1948.

Manoharan said his client had merely highlighted the alleged “errors and defects” of the government in his 2007 letter.

After the judge delivered his decision today, he agreed to Uthayakumar’s request to meet his wife for one hour.