By M. Mageswari | The Star

Tenaganita Sdn Bhd director Irene Fernandez, who claimed trial to publishing a memorandum containing false news, was allowed to reply to written submissions by the prosecution from the dock yesterday. 

Magistrate Juliana Mohamad was supposed to deliver her judgment on Fernandez against the charge yesterday after observing written submissions by prosecution and defence but the accused got an opportunity to submit.  

At the proceedings, counsel Edmund Bon asked the court to allow Fernandez to reply to written submissions of the prosecution from the dock as lead counsel M. Puravalen was in Pakistan on a human rights fact-finding mission between Oct 7 and 20. 

Bon said the defence had only received the written submissions from the prosecution on Oct 10 at 5pm and was unable to submit their reply to the court by Oct 11 as Puravalen was away. 

Juliana then allowed Fernandez to reply from the dock saying it was in the interest of justice, adding that the accused should only submit on issues or matters highlighted by the prosecution in their written submission. 

Later, Fernandez submitted that the findings in the memorandum only contained information that Tenaganita received from interviews with 335 former detainees during the course of its research on “Migration, Health and HIV/ AIDS”. 

She said the interviews with the ex-detainees among others showed a pattern of consistent abuse, torture, lack of food and water, denial of access to medical treatment and even deaths in the detention camps.  

For example, Fernandez claimed, a former detainee from Semenyih camp, Bangladeshi Golam Maola Ketab Ali, had testified that “the migrants were told to stripped completely and that it was reflected by other detainees”. 

She claimed further that Golam had also testified that the latter was only given two glasses of water per day and not enough proper food. 

Fernandez, 56, was submitting in her trial for maliciously publishing a memorandum entitled Abuse, Torture, and Dehumanised Treatment of Migrant Workers at Detention Camps, which contained false news on Aug 25, 1995. 

DPP Stanley Augustin and DPP Lisa Kwan prosecuted while counsel Amer Hamsah Arshad appeared for the defence. 

Counsel Edward Saw held a watching brief for Amnesty International while counsel T. Ramadas held a watching brief for the Bar Council. 

Submissions will continue today.