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The courtroom was packed with the accused persons as well as members of the public who had turned up to watch the trial of 18 persons charged for taking part in a protest on 15 Mar 08.
The morning started off with Mr Ng E-jay pleading guilty to the charge of taking part in an assembly outside Parliament House. The second charge of participating in a procession was taken into consideration. Mr Ng was subsequently fined $600.
The defendants then insisted that they be given copies of the video footage that the prosecution had said that it was going to introduce as part of the evidence.
Mr Chia Ti Lik informed the court that he had written to the AG’s Chambers (AGC) that the defendants be allowed to view the police DVD.This was back in 8 Sep 08.
Dr Chee Soon Juan added that on 7 Oct 08, he had reminded the prosecution at a pre-trial conference (PTC) about the video. The PTC judge had asked the AGC to expedite matters and release the video to the defendants.
Just three days before the trial, the prosecution called a few of the defendants that they could view the tapes at the Police Cantonment Complex. Why the dragging of feet? And why were not all the defendants informed?
When pressed today in court Deputy Public Prosecutor Mr Isaac Tan told the court that the prosecution had not made up its mind whether it would use the video as evidence!
The hearing was then stood down for the AGC to make up its mind about the video and to process Mr Ng E-jay’s fine.
When the hearing resumed at 3:30 pm, the court clerk spent the next 1 hour and 45 minutes reading out the charges to each of the defendants.
When it came to Mr Jufrie Mahmood, the officer asked him what language Mr Jufrie wanted the charge to be read in.
“English,” the veteran oppositionist replied.
After the charges were read out, the clerk asked him: “Do you understand the charge?”
“I understand what was read out to me,” Mr Jufrie replied, “what I don’t understand is why are we being charged. You see groups of tourists and other people everyday in front of Parliament. Why are they all not charged?”
All the defendants then asked that Mr Yap Keng Ho be tried separately as he was not part of the Tak Boleh Tahan campaign. Mr Yap made the same application and wanted to be tried separately.
The judge dismissed the application and insisted that the trial include Mr Yap.
Towards the end of the day, Mr Jeffrey George asked for his trial to be adjourned so that he could return to his contract work. Mr George is a oil-rig engineer.
The judge rejected his application.
“Can I then be excused from the hearing? I give my undertaking that I will abide by all the decisions made by the court.”
The judge, too, rejected this application.
In the end, Mr George pleaded guilty as this was the only way for him to get back to his work. He was fined $1,200.
The hearing continues tomorrow at 9:30 am in Subordinate Court 5 before Distrct Judge Chia Wee Kiat.
PS: Mr Ng E-jay was handcuffed while he was escorted to the Registry to pay his fine. Was there a need to cuff him when Mr Ng was clearly not a criminal? Even his lawyer was unhappy that he was treated thus.