There was uncertainty at the Sessions Court on Thursday when the defence counsel tried to introduce video evidence in an unlawful assembly case.
R. Sivarasa, Amer Hamzah Arshad, Latheefa Beebi Koya, N. Surendran, Eric Paulsen, Johnny Andu @ Abu Bakar Adnan and Nooraza Othman were charged with taking part in an illegal assembly on Dec 9, 2007, between 8.10am and 8.50am in front of the Kamdar building on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman and disobeying police orders to disperse.
During cross examination, defence counsel M. Puravelen wanted to present a video of the gathering to “refresh the memory” of Deputy Supt Rotzain Rashid, who was one of the arresting officers during the march in conjuction with Human Rights Day.
However, deputy public prosecutor Raja Rozela Raja Toran objected, saying that it was defence evidence, and it would be wrong to submit it during the prosecution stage.
DSP Rotzain, who had testified to arresting Sivarasa, had told the court that the assembly was peaceful until the police instructed them to disperse.
“The situation was peaceful. The group was walking on the sidewalk. They ignored (Dang Wangi deputy OCPD) Supt (Che) Hamzah (Che Ismail)’s instruction to disperse.
“At about 8.10am, the group had reached Jalan Tun Perak. Supt Hamzah waved his arm (as a sign) to arrest the group. At that point of time, the situation became chaotic,” said DSP Rotzain.
Asked if he had communicated with Surendren, DSP Rotzain said he “did not remember as it was chaotic” although he admitted he was the person next to Surendran in photographs taken by the police which had been submitted to the court.
At this juncture, Puravelen asked judge S.M. Komathy Suppiah for permission to show DSP Rotzain a video clip to “refresh his memory”.
Raja Rozela objected, saying it was against the Evidence Act.
Komathy questioned the objection, saying that the defence needed to be given the opportunity to challenge the credibility of the witness.
Puravelen said it was very rare to be able to contradict the witness with factual evidence.
“It is a brilliant opportunity to show the video and see if the witness challenges it. How do we undermine the case of the prosecution if we don’t contradict them?” he asked.
Raja Rozela said it would be a different matter if the defence was trying to impeach the witness, but said this was at a cross examination at the prosecution stage.
“Please don’t see our objection as preventing the defence or other parties in seeking the truth. We are objecting as a matter of principle. I can only submit on grounds of the law, and the evidence is not proper to be submitted at the prosecution stage,” she said.
Komathy then decided to adjourn the case to Feb 10 next year.
Also present was defence co-counsel Abd Rashid Ismail, while the prosecution team also consisted of Mohd Muzil Muhamad and Norhani Mohd Adzhar.