Monday, December 14, 2015

HRD Lena Hendry's trial begins today?

Human Rights Defender Lena Hendry's trial started today(14/12/2015), and set to continue tomorrow. 2 prosecution witnesses testified today.

Really, Malaysia to be consistent with the United National Resolution that they voted in favour of concerning Human Rights Defenders need to review their position whether the trial should be continued or not. Lena Hendry's lawyers should have sent a letter requesting the Public Prosecutor given the change of circumstances at the end of November 2015. Even, if they did not, then the Public Prosecutor(the Attorney General) need to immediately review this case, and possible agree to a Discharge Not Ammounting to and Acquittal(DNAA), or better still agree to an Acquittal. 

It is hypocritical for Malaysia to continue with the trial after they have accepted the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

We are hopeful that Malaysia will do the right thing now, and drop the charges.

Monday, 14 December 2015 | MYT 8:18 PM

Activist Lena Hendry’s trial begins

Activist, Lena Hendry faced her first day of trial at Duta court on Monday. Lena was charged under Section 6 of Film Censorship Act for organizing a private screening of award-winning documentary, No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Langka on July 3, 2013. - Star, 14/12/2015
[There is video included in the Star Report - I could not open it just now]

Lena hits out at gov't over 'killing fields' film

Kow Gah Chie     Published     Updated     6 comments

Community Communication Centre (Komas) programme coordinator Lena Hendry has hit out at the government for violating her fundamental rights by prosecuting her over a Sri Lanka genocide documentary filmed two years ago.

"I think the case has gone on too long. Prosecuting me for screening a film is definitely against my freedom of expression," Lena said outside the Kuala Lumpur Magistrate's Court.

She was charged with screening the documentary without the approval of the Film Censorship Board.

The court proceeding began today following her failure to get the charge against her set aside.

"I think the Attorney-General's Chambers has been far-fetched in pressing a charge on screening a film. Look at the law, it basically says that all films are illegal, how can all films be illegal?

"That means even the film I take in my mobile is technically illegal; it is just they don't enforce the law. It is quite sad to see the state of human rights in Malaysia," said Lena.

"It has been a very exhausting and tiring journey (for me). We have to fight the case (all the way) to the Federal Court and we lost," she said.

"If you look at the issue, it is about human rights and the alleged war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan government.

"I am not sure why the government is still going to prosecute me. At the United Nations, the government said it supports freedom of expression and has even signed the resolution to protect human rights and human rights defenders," Lena said.

She accused the government of not fulfilling its pledge back home.

Different mask

Lena was referring to the session of the third committee (Social, Humantarian and Cultural) of the United Nations General Assembly held last month, at which Malaysia and 116 countries voted in favour of the resolution.

The resolution calls upon all countries to take measures to refrain from any acts of intimidation or reprisals against human right defenders.

"This has to stop. Because they (the government) cannot put on a different mask as soon as they leave Malaysia.

"But when they come back to Malaysia, they continue to prosecute them (human rights defenders)," she said.
Lena was charged on Sept 19, 2013, with screening an uncensored film, No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka, on July 3, 2013.

The charge under Section 6(1)(b) of the Film Censorship Act 2002 carries a jail term of up to three years or a fine of up to RM30,000, or both upon conviction.

Lena's colleagues and friends, including Komas executive director Arul Prakash as well as director Anna Har, staged a protest outside the courtroom to demand the government drop the charge against her.

The Magistrate's Court was shocked to learn that the witnesses in Lena's trial were communicating with the Home Ministry's prosecuting officer in a WhatApps messaging group to "refresh each other's memory" before testifying in court.

Earlier, the raiding officer Mechellister Saimon admitted he had sighted the police report and seacrh list before entering the court, while Omar Mohd Bahari, the director of Film Censorship Control and Enforcement Division, spoke about the existence WhatApps group.

The enforcement officer involved in the July 3, 2013 raid was with the messaging group, which happened to be the prosecuting officer, according to Omar.

Lena's defence council New Sin Yew raised objection to the magistrate Mohd Rehan Mohd Aris, and the latter instructed the prosecutor and witnesses against (such communication).

Instructed to be silent

In his testimony, Mechellister, who led the operation, claimed that his team consficated only a DVD-R as the laptop and the projector that were used to screen the film, have both disappeared after different men took them away in the raid.

This was challenged by the defence counsel, who said the projector was firmly installed on the wall and that nobody could have taken it away.

"The projecter was hung on the wall; are you making up the part about the projector?" asked New.

"I wasn't sure (where was the projector)," said Mechellister.

The 36-year-old assistant enforcement officer also insisted the raid took place around 9pm and Lena had passed him the DVD-R copy of the documentary.

"Do you know the film's duration was in fact 93 minutes, while the DVD-R (that you have consfiscated) is only 54 minutes long?" asked New during crossed-examination.

"I wasn's sure," replied Mechellister.

"Despite not being sure, you still brought the DVD-R (to Dang Wangi district police headquarter) for further investigation?" asked the defence cousel. The witness said yes.

Meanwhile, Omar confirmed that he was instructed by the Home Ministry to be silent about the raid following a complaint by Sri Lanka High Commission, but instead to claim that the complaint came from the internet.

He was forced to admit it after New read out the content of an e-mail, which was issued by Omar's superior for him to act.

The complaint was attached to the e-mail.

"I don't know the reason. I don' t understand English, so I didn't read it," claimed Omar when asked the real reason for the raid.

In the letter, the high commission had sought the ministry's help to take action to review the screening of the documentary which it said would hurt Sri Lankas living all over the world, including Malaysia. - Malaysiakini, 14/12/2015

See earlier related post:-

Lena Hendry - Drop Charges says ICJ, Article 19, FIDH, Front Line, OMCT & 116 other groups

Malaysia: Drop Dubious Case Against Rights Activist Lena Hendry [HRW and 11 others]

LENA HENDRY, HR Defender, Still in Court after 2 years? Drop the Charges NOW.

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