The case against the 12 men charged with alleged links to the now-defunct Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had been discontinued with immediate effect.

Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, in a statement this afternoon, said that continuing the proceedings, given the nature of the accused's offence, would bring the law into disrepute.

He pointed out the common theme between the 12 accused were that they had photos of slain LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and other leaders of the group in their mobile phones or Facebook accounts.

"If such conduct can constitute a criminal offence, it would bring the law into disrepute.

"But even if there were elements of a “terrorist act” on the part of all or any of the 12 LTTE accused by possessing, distributing or displaying such photos or Prabhakaran, it would be impossible for the prosecution to establish that they do not fall within the excluded category of Section 130B(4) of the Penal Code in that they merely constitute “advocacy, protest or dissent”," Thomas said in the 11-page statement, adding that he had exercised his constitutional powers in discontinuing the proceedings.

Hero Worship's Not a Crime

Thomas noted that it was common for people to hero worship their idols, drawing parrallels to the adoration towards historical leaders like Lenin, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, and Che Guevara.

"Having their photos and other representations in one's mobile phone or on a Facebook account does not transform one to being a terrorist.

"Just because each of these leaders used terror or violence to achieve their political goals does not mean that an ardent supporter online should be regarded as a terrorist or is planning a terrorist act," added Thomas.

Thomas further noted that time had also played a role in the discontinuation of the case, given that 6 of the accused have been charged with offences that allegedly took place between March and December 2014, and thus, charging them 6 years later, is against public interest.

Furthermore, LTTE has not been held responsible for any acts of terror in the last few years, even in its home country, Sri Lanka, more so having an impact on Malaysians between January and October 2019, during which period the remaining 6 individuals were charged with committing the alleged offences.

"The link is remote, specious and tenuous. Harm to Malaysians cannot be established by the prosecution."

Terror Classification Subject To Review

Thomas also pointed out that the classification of an organisation as a "terrorist group", is subject to review every six months by the Home Minister, as stipulated by law.

"Section 66B(1) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (AMLATFPUAA) provides that the minister shall review his order every 6 months whether there are still reasonable grounds for such order to continue to apply to a specified entity; and if the minister determines that there are no such reasonable grounds, he shall immediately revoke the order previously made."

The 12 men, including 2 DAP assemblymen, and three other DAP members, were picked up last year under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) in early October, for alleged links with LTTE.

They were then charged with supporting the now-defunct militant group, and face up to 7 years in jail, or a fine, or both, upon conviction.

The LTTE was embroiled in a civil war with the Sri Lankan army for almost three decades, in its quest for an independent Tamil state in the north and east of the country.

It is listed as a terrorist organisation in dozens of countries. Its reign ended in 2009 when the group was defeated by the Sri Lankan military.

Photo source: The Star