Charges against 442 detained under Sosma may be ammended

NST News

KUALA LUMPUR: The charges against 442 individuals detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) may be ammended so that some of them can be tried in court, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin said. He said Attorney-General (AG) Tommy Thomas had agreed to it after a group of Sosma detainees at the Sungai Buloh Prison ended their hunger strike. The detainees agreed to end the hunger strike which they began last Friday after Hanipa met them on Monday. Hanipa said the 442 detainees had been remanded under Section 13 of Sosma for being members of various organised criminal groups as well as consorting or assisting such groups. "The AG is considering whether his chambers can amend the charges against them. It will involve 442 detainees who are being probed under Section 43 of the Societies Act 1966 for being members of an unlawful society, as well as Sections 141 to 158 of the Penal Code for offences against public tranquillity. "This process will take some time and has to be on a case-by-case basis," Hanipa said, adding that the public prosecutor will give priority to female offenders and juveniles, the sick or infirm detainees. "When amended charges are made, the accused can either plead guilty to them or claim trial. In the event these offenders claim trial to the amended charges, bail may be applied by them, and it is in the discretion of the court whether or not to grant bail," he said. However, Hanipa said, 22 detainees who are being probed for allegedly committing terrorism offences under the Penal Code are not going to have their charges amended. "It is my view those cases are best left to be dealt with by the learned AG in accordance with his discretion pursuant to Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution, until the cabinet makes a final decision with regard to Sosma," he added. Thomas was reported to have said that Sosma would be abolished as promised by the Pakatan Harapan government. Under Sosma, a person can be detained for a maximum of 28 days and police can delay his or her access to family and legal counsel for up to 48 hours after being arrested. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd