Lawyers for Bersih chief Maria Chin Abdullah file legal challenge against her detention

Maria Chin Abdullah, chairperson of the coalition of Malaysian NGOs and activist groups known as Bersih, addressing journalists in Kuala Lumpur.
Maria Chin Abdullah, chairperson of the coalition of Malaysian NGOs and activist groups known as Bersih, addressing journalists in Kuala Lumpur. PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR - Lawyers representing Ms Maria Chin Abdullah, the head of Malaysia's reformist Bersih movement, on Tuesday (Nov 22) filed a habeas corpus application to challenge her detention under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) and seek her release.

Ms Chin, 60, had been remanded for 28 days under the Sosma Act, a law which was adopted in 2012 after the Internal Security Act (ISA) was repealed.

Ms Chin's lawyers filed the application - a legal challenge to free someone from detention - at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur, The Star reported.

The Malaysiakini news website reported her lawyer, Ms Ambiga Sreenivasan, as saying the application had cited the condition of Ms Chin's detention in solitary confinement as one of the grounds for the legal challenge.

"We have also stated that Sosma was wrongly used against her. And that the whole method in which she was taken in was unlawful," Ms Ambiga, who is also Human Rights Society chairman, told reporters at the Kuala Lumpur High Court lobby.

Ms Chin was detained by police on Friday, on the eve of the massive Bersih protest rally in Kuala Lumpur which was held to demand that Prime Minister Najib Razak step down over graft allegations. The Saturday rally, dubbed Bersih 5, drew tens of thousands of Malaysians, who gathered at major streets in Kuala Lumpur.

Along with Ms Chin, police also detained other figures from the group, opposition leaders and student activists in the pre-Bersih swoop. Police also detained the leader of the rival Red Shirts movement.

Ms Chin's three sons were present in court on Tuesday.

Mr Azumin Mohamad Yunus, 23, told a press conference that his mother's detention was unjust and he hoped that she would be given access to her medication.

He said his mother suffered from high blood pressure and a cholesterol problem.

"I saw her on Sunday and she was visibly tired," he said.

Meanwhile, Red Shirts leader Jamal Yunos, who was detained at about 1.30am on Saturday at a hotel and remanded for four days, was released on police bail after his remand ended on Tuesday.

He walked out of the Ampang Jaya police headquarters at about noon and was greeted by a group of Red Shirts members.

The Sungai Besar Umno chief was remanded to facilitate investigations into a fracas between police and the Red Shirts group at a shopping mall in Ampang on Nov 13.

Datuk Seri Jamal claimed that a policeman had punched him but he later said it was opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin's men who had hurt him and left him with a bloodied nose.