Malaysian duo plead not guilty to assaulting Sri Lankan envoy

Court Decision

TWO men claimed trial in Malaysia on Friday to charges of rioting and causing injury after they were nabbed over the assault of Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to the country.

A report on The Star said the two – businessman A. Kalaimughilan, 26, and taxi driver V. Balamurugan, 32, both from Sungai Siput, a small township in the northern state of Perak – were charged at a Sessions Court this morning.

The charge under Section 147 of the country’s criminal penal code carries a maximum two years’ jail or a fine or both.

The two men’s lawyers urged the court to set bail at a sum lower than the RM20,000 (US$4,900) requested by the deputy public prosecutor’s office.

One lawyer – M. Manoharan – pointed out that both came from poor families and had no criminal records.

“I believe they are innocent until proven guilty. Besides, I am confident they will not abscond from this offence, which is considered minor,” he was quoted saying.

Judge Muhammad Faizal Ismail set bail at RM7,000 (US$1,700) each with one surety, and fixed Oct 7 for case mention.

Kalaimughilan and Balamurugan are believed to be among the group of men who accosted High Commissioner Ibrahim Sahib Ansar at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) last weekend.

It is believed that the group attacked the envoy after he refused to divulge details on the whereabouts of former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa during the latter’s recent visit to the country.

The attack later prompted the Sri Lankan Foreign Affairs Ministry to issue a statement condemning the incident “in the strongest terms”.

On Tuesday, national police chief Khalid Abu Bakar was quoted in the New Straits Times as saying that police are investigating local groups who they suspect are Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) sypmpathizers who protested against Mahinda’s presence in Malaysia.

The authorities, Khalid said, are looking into the group’s possible funding links to the LTTE in the conflict against the Sri Lankan embassy.

Khalid added that more suspects behind the assault, apart from the five that were arrested, have been identified and are being tracked.

The police chief said the envoy suffered bruises on his face and body from the attack and had sought treatment at the Gleneagles Medical Centre.

Mahinda’s visit to Malaysia had drawn protests from a group of ethnic Indian Malaysians who have dubbed him a “war criminal” for atrocities and killings allegedly committed by the military during Sri Lanka’s civil war.

The quarter-century civil war ended in 2009 when government forces defeated Tamil Tiger rebels. The U.N. estimates that at least 80,000 people were killed.

(Asian Correspondent)