KUALA LUMPUR•A former Umno leader in Penang and his lawyer were yesterday charged in court with attempting to sabotage Malaysia's banking and financial systems.
Khairuddin Abu Hassan and lawyer Matthias Chang have vowed to fight the charges under the Penal Code, and their continuing detention under the tough anti-terror law.
They are being held under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act, or Sosma, which has blocked legal help and family members from meeting them.
Clad in orange lock-up uniforms, both were escorted into the Magistrates Court while waving to a waiting crowd, and exchanged greetings as they were applauded by family members and supporters.
"We are innocent until proven guilty. This is the fifth day of my hunger strike," Chang, 65, told reporters. He was a political secretary to former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.
"I will fight until the end," said Khairuddin, 53, a former vice-chairman of the Umno division of Batu Kawan in Penang. He was sacked from the party after being declared a bankrupt.
He had been raising questions about the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal and alleged money flows involving Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Khairuddin, aided by Chang, had visited the authorities in several countries to call for investigations into the cross-border money flows.
Magistrate Siti Radziah Kamardin fixed the case for mention again on Oct 26. The defendants were charged with attempting to "commit sabotage" to the country in Paris, London, Switzerland, Hong Kong and at the Cantonment police station in Singapore.
Also present at the court was Khairuddin's famous actress wife, who is widely known as Umie Aida.
Khairuddin and Chang were stopped at the Kuala Lumpur airport last month as they were about to fly to New York to meet agents from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Their court case has caused controversy as the security law, Sosma, which was approved by Parliament in 2012 to replace the tough Internal Security Act, was used to arraign them.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK