Trial of Irene Fernandez, Director of Tenaganita postponed to August 5, 2008 at the High Court 5, Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur

Irene went back to court today to see how the High Court will proceed with the trial since the lost notes of evidence have been recovered. In the open court, the defence counsel, Mr. M Puravalen asked the Judge to assist the court and the public to understand how the notes of evidence that had been lost for sometime, was recovered suddenly even after the deadline to find the missing notes ended on May 12, 2008.

Yang Arif Hakim Dato’ Haji Mohamad Apandi Bin Haji Ali said he could not clarify as the lower courts had not done so. The registrar at the lower courts had only sent a letter stating that the lost notes were found without any further explanation. He read out the letter. He went on to say that it was an administrative issue and thus the response should come from the chief registrar of the courts. The Judge requested the defence counsel to write a formal letter.

We understand that the court system includes the administration, the officers of the court and the judges. Each one is an integral part of the system to ensure justice and cannot be separated. If one arm is not functioning, like the administration aspect, then the administrative of justice will be severely affected. Thus it is fundamental that all, including the judge is concerned how the system functions and managed.

The non explanation as to how the courts administration has bungled the process and delayed the hearings will now form an important point and reason for the appeal. Thus the appeal statement will now be amended, said Puravalen, the defence counsel.

The courts require at least four weeks to get the notes of evidence to be typed and then certified for the appeal record. It will take 4 weeks. Then 2 weeks to verify the notes by the Defence and Prosecution. The next date for mention of the case will be on August 5, 2008.

Irene Fernandez was convicted to 12 months imprisonment by the magistrates court on October 16, 2003 under the Printing Presses and Publication Act for publishing false news when she exposed the horrific conditions and torture of detainees at Immigration detention camps, in 1995. Five years after the conviction and the appeal being filed, the notes of evidence have yet to be typed and the appeal records put in order. The question remains,”How long more for justice to be seen to be done and realized?”

Irene’s bail has been extended. She will get her passport from the court to facilitate her travel to Hong Kong for the inaugural meeting of International Migrant Alliance. Irene will give the keynote address at this founding assembly of IMA where over 200 delegates from over 100 organizations from 40 countries will found the International Migrant Alliance (IMA) on June 15, 2008.

Florida Sandanasamy

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