Five former Internal Security Act (SA) detainees, including Batu MP Tian Chua and Hulu Klang assemblyperson Saari Sungib, were today awarded damages totalling RM4.5 million for their detention in 2001.
The other three are activists Hishamuddin Rais, former PKR supreme council member Badrul Amin Baharom and Badaruddin Ismail.
This follows the Court of Appeal today partially upholding the Kuala Lumpur High Court's decision. However, the court reduced the quantum of damages for their detention from RM15,000 per day to RM10,000 per day.
All five were each awarded exemplary damages of RM30,000 and four of the five - excluding Badaruddin - were awarded RM25,000 each as damages for the defamation they suffered.
The unanimous decision today was made by a three-member bench led by Court of Appeal judge Abdul Wahab Patail.
The other two judges were Justice Rohana Yusof and Umi Kalthum Abdul Majid.
The five, who were reformasi activists, had sued former inspector-general of police Norian Mai (right) for defaming them by implying they were terrorists. Besides Norian, the then-home minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and the government were also named as defendants.
The writ was first filed in 2004 with eight plaintiffs, including former senator Mohd Ezam Md Noor, former Padang Serai MP S Gobalakrishnan and anti-Pakatan Rakyat NGO 'Reject Individual Named Anwar Ibrahim' (Tibai) council member Abdul Ghani Haron.
The three, who are former PKR members, have however, withdrawn from the suit.
The High Court in Kuala Lumpur earlier awarded the five in excess of RM4 million in damages following the detention and defamation, as Justice Lau Bee Lan ruled their detention was unlawful and done in bad faith.
AG withdraws appeal on liability
Lawyer for the five, Razlan Hadri Zulkifli, told Malaysiakini that the Attorney-General’s Chambers had withdrawn its appeal over liability for the government’s actions.
“They were merely appealing on the quantum awarded as the senior federal counsel appearing for the appellants (the government) had applied for the unlawful detention quantum to be reduced from RM15,000 to RM1,000, citing a case law,” Razlan said.
“However, the Court of Appeal judges only agreed to reduce the amount from RM15,000 to RM10,000 a day,” Razlan (on the right) said.
The court, he said, also awarded the other damages.
Senior federal counsel Mastura Ayob and Kamal Azira Hassan appeared for the respondents.
Razlan said despite the lower per day award, he expects the amount to be in the range of RM4.5 million as it includes interest.
The KL High Court in its decision two years ago also noted that the detainees were subject to “cruel” treatment during their detention”, as they were shamed, made to change their clothing in front of police personnel, made to walk barefoot into filthy toilets, interrogated for hours on end and for the first few days of detention, the Muslims among them were not allowed to perform their prayers.
The interrogations conducted by the police showed the arrests had nothing to do with national security “but was about opposition politics” and to justify this, a media statement was issued by Bukit Aman claiming they possessed rocket launchers, and had held meetings with Thai separatist guerillas.