The Malaysian Bar has called for the Home Minister and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to resign over the recent alleged unlawful detention of its five Legal Aid Centre (LAC) lawyers.
Bar president Ragunath Kesavan said they would be suing the Government, IGP Tan Sri Musa Hassan and Brickfields OCPD Asst Comm Wan Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Khalid over the incident.
He said the suit was also in public interest over police excesses, under Section 28A (4) of the Criminal Procedure Code.
He told reporters this after an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of the Bar yesterday.
At the EGM, the Bar passed a resolution condemning police action in denying lawyers access to 15 detainees who had been arrested for taking part in a candlelight vigil on May 7.
The five lawyers were detained when they arrived at the Brickfields police station to act as counsel for the 15.
The candlelight vigil had been organised in support of Bersih activist Wong Chin Huat who had urged the public to wear black to protest the ongoing Perak political crisis.
Ragunath said it was crucial for a lawyer to be present when a person was arrested or questioned to ensure accountability in the criminal justice system and for any police excess to be corrected on the spot.
He said they were calling for the resignations because the lawyers had been wrongfully accused of taking part in an illegal assembly and not allowed access to the 15.
“They were also publicly accused of asking for preferential treatment, implying we had broken the law in front of the police station, which is not true,” he said.
Ragunath said the Bar would seek a meeting with the Prime Minister to present a memorandum on the EGM resolutions.
Meanwhile, the Advocates Association of Sarawak also condemned the detention and interrogation of the LAC lawyers.
Its president Frank Tang King Hung said detainees have the right to legal counsel.
“The police action makes an absolute mockery of the constitutional right to legal representation and is a gross abuse of power,” he said.