JOHOR BARU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Johor Baru High Court on Wednesday (March 27) overturned the rulings made by the Sessions court in the Sungai Kim Kim chemical dumping case by reducing the bail for two of the accused and offering bail to the third person.
High Court judge Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid said the Sessions court judge did not provide a reason to justify the earlier ruling on bail for the three.
"The Sungai Kim Kim incident has been receiving attention not only in Johor but also throughout Malaysia, as it has been intensively reported by the media.
"The High Court has the right to review the decision, and I found that the learned judge has made a mistake," Datuk Ahmad said before giving his decision.
On Monday, Singaporean Wang Jing Chao, a director with a used tyre-processing company, his Malaysian partner Yap Yoke Liang and their lorry driver N. Maridass were charged in the Sessions court for offences related to pollution.
Wang and Yap face 32 charges between them, while Maridass has one charge filed against him for illegally disposing chemicals into Sungai Kim Kim.
After they were charged, Sessions Judge Jailani Rahman slapped a bail of RM100,000 (S$33,200) on Maridass and RM250,000 on Yap, with one surety each.
He also ordered Yap to hand over his passport. Wang was not offered bail, as he is a foreigner.
In his decision on Wednesday, Mr Ahmad reduced Maridass' bail amount from RM100,000 to RM30,000 and Yap's from RM250,000 to RM150,000. He also offered Wang bail of RM250,000 with two Malaysian sureties.
Wang must also report to the Pasir Gudang police station on the 15th of every month until the case is over.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Roslan Md Nor prosecuted the case, while lawyer G. Subramaniam Nair represented Yap and Wang, and lawyer S. Rathakrishna represented Maridass.
Media reports have said that thousands of people, including children, in Pasir Gudang were affected by the chemical waste dumped into Sungai Kim Kim, forcing the government to close 111 schools in the area.
Many residents who live around the river fled at the height of concerns over toxic gases wafting into their homes.
Singapore authorities closely monitored the chemical spill and issued regular press releases to inform the public that the Republic has not been affected by the incident.
The Malaysian authorities said last week that the cleanup of the 1.5km polluted stretch of the river was complete, with 1,250 tonnes of soil, water and sludge removed.