Two Democratic Action Party (DAP) assemblymen and a businessman were charged in a Melaka court yesterday over their alleged links to the now-defunct Sri Lankan terrorist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
They were among 12 people detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) after a crackdown three weeks ago on LTTE sympathisers.
Seremban Jaya assemblyman P. Gunasekaran, Gadek assemblyman G. Saminathan and businessman S. Chandru claimed trial to a charge under Section 130 of the Penal Code. It carries a sentence of life imprisonment or a maximum of 30 years or fine, and forfeiture of any property used or intended to be used for the offence.
Saminathan also faces an additional charge of possessing items with elements of terrorist acts or connected to the LTTE. If found guilty, he faces up to seven years in jail or a fine, and forfeiture of any of the items.
Seven others were also charged yesterday in Selangor, Perak, Penang and Johor. No plea was recorded and all 10 were denied bail.
The Straits Times understands that the remaining two suspects are expected to be charged tomorrow in Kuala Lumpur.
Under Sosma, the authorities are allowed to detain a suspect for up to 28 days without trial, after the initial 24 hours following the arrest.
"They have used Sosma and made my husband look like a terrorist when he has not done anything," Ms M. Tamilmalar, the wife of a suspect, A. Kalaimughilan, was quoted as saying by news portal Malaysiakini at the Selayang Sessions Court.
The arrests of the assemblymen have raised tensions within the ruling coalition Pakatan Harapan that includes the DAP, with claims and counter-claims over their alleged roles in raising funds for LTTE and trying to revive the group.
Opposition parties Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) have criticised the DAP for becoming a breeding ground for radicals. PAS has also called for a White Paper on the LTTE threat and for the arrested assemblymen to resign.