Court sets July 15-18 to hear govt's suit against Ambiga, 14 others

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 4 (Bernama) -- The High Court here today set July 15-18 as the trial dates for the government's suit against Bersih 2.0 co-chairman Datuk S. Ambiga and 14 others over the Bersih 3.0 rally held in the city on April 28 last year.

Justice Datuk John Louis O'Hara set the dates after meeting both the plaintiffs (government) and defendants in his chambers today on the bundle of documents and number of witnesses to testify in the trial.

Senior Federal Counsel Azizan Md Arshad told reporters that a total of 18 witnesses, mostly police personnel, would be called by plaintiff while defendants were expected to call 17 witnesses.

O'Hara also set July 5 for both parties to submit their respective witnesses statements before the commencement of the trial.

The government filed the suit on May 15 against 10 defendants, namely Ambiga, Maria Chin Abdullah, Zaid Kamarudin, K. Arumugam, S. Arul Prakkash, Wong Chin Huat, Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, Toh Kin Woon, Andrew Khoo and Haris Fathillah Mohamed.

However, on Aug 10, it removed the name of Haris Fathillah Mohamed on the grounds that he was not on the Bersih 2.0 steering committee.

On Sept 18, O'Hara had allowed six other Bersih 2.0 steering committee members to be interveners in the suit.

The government is claiming special compensation amounting to RM122,000 as cost to repair damaged police vehicles, other costs, interests and other relief deemed fit by the court.

It is also seeking a declaration that the defendants, as the organisers of the Bersih 3.0 rally, had violated Section 6 (2)(g) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, as they had the responsibility, among others, of ensuring that the gathering would not cause damage to public property.

In the statement of claim, the government also stated that the gathering around Dataran Merdeka turned unruly when the participants broke through the police barricades.

It said that on that day, the police were stationed around the area to ensure that the rally participants did not violate the order issued by the Magistrate's Court on April 26, which prohibited a gathering from being held at Dataran Merdeka and for the public not to be present there or to take part in any protest rally between April 28 and May 1 this year.