Anwar, Azmin claim trial to illegal assembly charge
KUALA LUMPUR, May 22 — Top PKR leaders Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Azmin Ali today claimed trial in the Sessions Court here to taking part in an illegal rally, the first persons to be charged under the Peaceful Assembly Act less than a month after the new law aimed at allowing public gatherings “in accordance with international norms” was enforced.
Rembau PKR Youth chief Badrul Hisham Shaharin, who also faces similar charges, also claimed trial.
Judge Mahmud Abdullah set bail at RM500 for each of them and fixed July 2 for the next case mention.
Section 4(2)(c) of the Peaceful Assembly Act, which relates to the right to organise a participate in an assembly, states that “a person commits an offence if he organises or participates in a street protest.”
Anwar, Azmin and Badrul were also charged under the Penal Code with abetting to incite three individuals, named as R. Tangam, G. Rajesh Kumar and Farhan Ibrahim @ Alias, to open the police barricade enclosing Dataran Merdeka during the April 28 Bersih 3.0 rally for electoral reforms.
The judge did not fix an additional bail but allowed the trio to be released on a personal bond.
Anwar and Azmin have denied exchanging signals to break a police barrier in front of Dataran Merdeka during the rally, with the former insisting these were to ask the Selangor PKR chief to negotiate with police.
The Permatang Pauh MP said the rolling motion he made with his hands directed at Azmin meant to “nego, nego” (negotiate).
Azmin said he then jerked his thumb over his shoulder and nodded to the former deputy prime minister to say “I had already negotiated with police.”
A few members of the crowd of 15,000, who were sandwiched between the square and Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), begin chanting “masuk, masuk (enter, enter)” and an Indian man is seen pushing the metal gate aside, allowing the crowd to burst through.
Police had obtained a court order barring members of the public from entering the historic square. Bersih leaders had also told supporters not to defy the order and instead hold their sit-in rally for free and fair elections at the point they were stopped by police.
But after some demonstrators breached the barrier, police fired tear gas and water cannons at them, leading to spiralling chaos as police chased Bersih supporters down several streets and some rally-goers retaliated and attacked riot police.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had said when tabling the Peaceful Assembly Act in Parliament last year that it would be “revolutionary” and allow Malaysians to participate in public gatherings “in accordance with international norms.”