Kuala Lumpur, May 15 : A Malaysian federal court has ruled that the detention of the five Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF) leaders at the Kamunting Detention Centre is legal, and they will remain incarcerated for another 19 months at least.
Dismissing the habeas corpus appeal of the HINDRAF leaders on their detention under the Internal Security Act, the three-man bench ruled that the detention of the five for two years under the ISA was legal.
According to the New Strait Times, Judge Alauddin Mohamad Sherif said judicial commissioner Zainal Azman Ab Aziz, who heard their applications in the High Court, had combed through the affidavits of respondents, including that of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who was then the Internal Security Minister.
Sitting with Alauddin were Justices Arifin Zakaria and Hashim Yusof.
Alauddin said the decision by Abdullah to order the detention under ISA was not made in a "mechanical manner".
"The detentions were made based on investigations and that the respondents had complied with procedural requirements under the Act," said Alauddin, who read the oral grounds in a packed courtroom.
"There was no misdirection in law by the judicial commissioner," said Alauddin.
Outside court, HINDRAF supporters and family members of the detainees said they accepted the court's verdict but the struggle to seek the freedom of the five would continue.
The five detainees are lawyers R. Kenghadaran, 40, M. Manoharan, 46, V. Ganabatirau, 34, P. Uthayakumar, 46, and Hindraf co-ordinator K. Vasantha Kumar, 34.
They had filed the habeas corpus application soon after their detention on December 13, 2007.
They had named the Internal Security Minister and commandant of the Kamunting Detention Centre as respondents.
Their lawyer Karpal Singh said an option available was for Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar to revoke the orders and set them free.
The lawyer said he regretted that the apex court did not address the legal issues raised during submission.
He said the five detainees would also file a second habeas corpus application against the Advisory Board chairman for allegedly failing to comply with procedural law.