The Court of Appeal today dismissed the appeal by lawyers and an activist, and another by the government, over a Kuala Lumpur High Court decision that declared their arrest and detention following the Human Rights Day walk in 2007 as unlawful.
With today’s decision, last year’s High Court decision that awarded damages of RM10,000 each to the lawyers and activist stands. One of the lawyers, Eric Paulsen (right), also obtains special damages of RM5,454 for having to fly in from South Africa to attend the criminal trial where the lawyers were also charged.
The lawyers, who besides Paulsen were Sivarasa Rasiah, Latheefa Koya, N Surendran and Amer Hamzah Arshad; and activist Johny Andu @ Abu Bakar Adnan were appealing on the quantum awarded by the High Court.
The government’s appeal is over the whole High Court decision which declared the arrests as unlawful, as well as the damages awarded by the court.
The decision today before a three-member bench led by Justice Zaharah Ibrahim, with Justices Anantham Kasinather and Abdul Aziz Abd Rahim, was unanimous.
The lawyers and activist named then-Dang Wangi acting OCPD Che Hamzah Che Ismail, who was the ground commander that day, the inspector-general of police, the Home Ministry and the government as defendants.
All six were among the 100 who participated in the Human Rights Walk event on Dec 9, 2007 from Sogo in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman to the Bar Council premises in Jalan Lebuh Pasar, where they were stopped near the junction to CIMB Bank in Jalan Tun Perak.
The event was held several weeks following the Hindraf protest. Human Rights Day is celebrated around the world on every Dec 10.
All six were also charged under the then Section 27 of the Police Act and Section 143 and 145 of the Penal Code with participation in an illegal rally and disobeying police orders, where the attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail appeared personally at the KL Sessions Court to charge them.
However, they were later acquitted by then Sessions Judge SM Komathy Suppiah in 2009 when she ruled that the prosecution had failed to prove its case. The prosecution did not appeal their acquittal.
All six were represented by Edmund Bon and J Leela, while senior federal counsel Nadia Hanim Tajuddin appeared for the defendants.