Terima Kasih Matrix

Malaysian lawyers urge probe into police brutality claims

KUALA LUMPUR, April 26 (AFP) - A group of Malaysian lawyers Wednesday urged the government to probe allegations of police brutality on opposition supporters during April 15 street protests.
The Legal Aid Centre, which represented 48 people arrested during the protests to mark the first anniversary of ex-deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim's sentencing, said it had received complaints of harsh police treatment.

The centre is run by a group of volunteer lawyers offering free legal services to the poor.

Fifteen of the detainees were Saturday charged with illegal assembly and another with insulting the police. Another 32 were released and told to report back to police.

The centre's chairperson R.Kesavan said a detainee, Azlee Johar, has alleged several policemen beat his head, neck and thighs and "even after he had fallen, he was dragged to the police truck, verbally abused, beaten and kicked."

He said in a statement that four other detainees also complained to a magistrate that they had been assaulted by police.

"We are of the view that the excessive use of force by police is inexcusable and was completely unprovoked," Kesavan said. He urged Deputy Premier and Home Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to look into the claims.

The centre also urged the government to look into claims by the detainees that conditions in police lock-ups were "inhumane and deplorable" as cells were overcrowded without proper drinking water.

It said the detainees had the right to peaceful assembly and accused police of "creating a tense atmosphere by lining the streets of the federal capital with water cannons trucks and rattan wielding policemen."

On April 15, police used water cannons and teargas to disperse protesters in the city centre. Heavy security foiled plans for a mass rally and a march to the palace to submit a memorandum on Anwar's case to the king.

Anwar, sacked in September 1998, was jailed for six years last April for abuse of power and is now on trial for sodomy, a crime punishable by up to 20 years in jail.

He says he is the victim of a high-level conspiracy because he intended to expose corruption and was seen as a political threat to the premier.