Denial of bail is punishment, say lawyers

PETALING JAYA - Denying sex bloggers Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee bail on the grounds that they have a "tendency to incite the public" is tantamount to punishment, say lawyers.

Civil liberties lawyer Syahredzan Johan said denying bail was excessive considering that the charges against the duo - under the Sedition Act, the Penal Code and the Film Censorship Act - are relatively light, carrying jail terms of between two and five years.

"While many may be angry over the issue, a DPP should act in the interest of justice and not follow public sentiment," he said.

Lawyer Datuk V. Sithambaram said there were three "yard sticks" in determining if a court should allow bail - whether the accused is a flight risk, if they might interfere with the witnesses, or if they were habitual offenders.

"To say there is a tendency, there must be a track record of convictions. If they are being charged for the first time, how do you prove they are habitual offenders?" he said.

Criminal lawyer G. Ravishankar said bail should not be looked at as a form of punishment, adding that the court should exercise its right to offer bail judiciously.

In court yesterday, DPP Noorin Badaruddin urged that no bail be given saying Tan and Lee had a tendency to upload content that stirred public anger.

Constitutional lawyer Edmond Bon said that while unbailable offences like terrorism left no leeway for bail, non-bailable offences allowed for bail according to the court's discretion.

"By keeping them in jail during the trial, even if they are acquitted, they would have lost their liberty," he said, adding that the duo could appeal to the High Court to allow bail.

Ex-NUS law scholar and girlfriend post explicit videos online
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Blog taken down due to parental pressure
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Ex-NUS law scholar and girlfriend post explicit videos online
Click on thumbnail to view (Photos: Internet)
For more photos, click here.
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