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MDMK leaders' plea against trial commencement dismissed

By Our Staff Reporter

CHENNAI SEPT. 2. Two petitions from MDMK leaders, arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, challenging the commencement of trial in the special court even while their bail pleas were still pending, were today dismissed by the Madras High Court.

The eight leaders filed their bail pleas in the special court on August 20, and these were taken up for hearing the next day. On a request from the prosecution, the special judge posted the matter for the period after 10 days.

Meanwhile, when he started examining witnesses, the eight leaders moved the High Court on the ground that commencing trial without disposing of the bail pleas would be prejudicial to their interests, as they were unable to give proper instructions to counsel.

In a separate petition, V. Sivanthiappan, said the special judge ought not to have permitted the examination of a prosecution witness when he (Mr. Sivanthiappan) could not attend the court owing to ill-health. He sought to quash the deposition made by the prosecution witness.

Justice V. Kanagaraj, dismissing both the petitions, said though granting 10 days for the prosecution to file its counter ``appears a long period,'' in the opinion of the special judge such time was required for the prosecution. Pointing out that it had been done for the first and only time, the judge said it could not be considered either unreasonable or arbitrary.

As for Mr. Sivanthiappan's plea, Mr. Justice Kanagaraj said the recording of prosecution evidence by the special judge on August 21 in the absence of the accused, was ``perfectly right.'' However, he permitted Mr. Sivanthiappan to exercise his right to recall the particular witness for cross-examination and asked the special court to permit the recall if the MDMK leader made such a request.

The eight petitioners are Madurai Ganesan, K. Alagusundaram, A. Ganesamoorthy, Veera. Ilavarasan, M. Boominathan, P.S. Maniam, S. Sivanthiappan and K. Nagarajan.

Verdict on bail pleas on Sept. 8

Our Kancheepuram Staff Reporter reports:

With the arguments on the bail petitions over today, L. Rajendran, special judge, POTA court, Poonamalle, near Chennai, said he would deliver the verdict on September 8 and posted the case for tomorrow for a cross-examination of witnesses by the defence counsel.

S. Jayakumar, special public prosecutor, submitted that the accused would tamper with witnesses if they were released on bail.

The senior defence counsel, K.S. Dinakaran, yesterday, submitted that the apprehension of the prosecution did not arise as most of the witnesses were either police or government officials.The accused were members of a national party recognised by the Election Commission and it would be an insult to them to say they would tamper with the witnesses.

Today, all accused, including Mr. Vaiko, and except P.S. Maniam, were produced in the court amid tight security. Mr. Maniam, who was ill, has been hospitalised in Vellore.

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