KUALA LUMPUR - Two Democratic Action Party (DAP) assemblymen and a businessman were charged in a Melaka court on Tuesday (Oct 29) 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, which carries a sentence of life imprisonment or a maximum of 30 years or a fine, and forfeiture of any property used or intended to be used for the offence, if found guilty.
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 on Tuesday 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 on Thursday in Kuala Lumpur.
Under Sosma, the authorities are allowed to detain a suspect for a maximum of 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 one 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 threat of LTTE elements in the country and for the arrested assemblymen to resign as "all Malaysians reject leaders involved in extremist, terrorist and militant activities".
The LTTE was a separatist group that had been active in Sri Lanka until it was officially defeated in 2009. It has been declared a terrorist group by 32 countries including Malaysia, which did so in 2014.
Police say they have been tracking LTTE's activities in the country since the 1990s and acted independently in the arrests.
Both Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin have denied any influence on the police probe into an alleged move in Malaysia to revive the LTTE.