Irene Fernandez trial: Lost notes of evidence found

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irene in courtIrene’s lawyer has asked the court to assist the public in understanding how the lost notes of evidence were recovered even after the deaedline. The non-explanation as to how the court administration has bungled the process and delayed the hearings will now form an important point and reason for the appeal, says Florida Sandanasamy.

Irene Fernandez went back to court on 11 June 2008 to see how the High Court will proceed with the trial since the lost notes of evidence have been recovered. In the open court, defence counsel 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, were recovered suddenly even after the deadline to find the missing notes ended on 12 May.

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, are concerned about how the system functions and is managed.

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The non-explanation as to how the court 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 four weeks. Then two weeks for the Defence and Prosecution to verify the notes. The next date for mention of the case will be on 5 August.

Irene Fernandez was convicted to 12 months imprisonment by the magistrates court on 16 October 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 realised?”

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 organisations from 40 countries were due to found the International Migrant Alliance (IMA) on 15 June 2008.

Florida Sandanasamy is director of Tenaganita

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