Court dismisses case against 30 longhouse residents to sign bond to keep the peace

MIRI, (6 February 2002) - The feeling of relief and joy were clearly seen on the faces of 30 Iban longhouse residents from Rumah Bangga, Rumah Penguang, Rumah Sidu and Rumah Janting of Sungai Sebukut-Lutong, Bakong, 100 km from Miri Town who were present at the Miri Court Complex after the Magistrate Court dismisses the case that were brought against them requiring them to sign the bond to keep the peace.

Prior to this, on 22nd May, 2000, all the 30 longhouse residents were summoned to the Magistrate Court in Marudi to enter into an agreement with the Court to keep the peace for six months under Section 67 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) as they were suspected of having the possibility that they might break the peace.

All the longhouse residents refused to sign the bond and told the Court that they would get a counsel to represent them in this case. They were subsequently ordered to execute bail amounting to RM3,000.

On 21st August, 2000, the longhouse residents were again summoned to the Magistrate Court to enter their defense. This time they were represented by their counsel Mr. Paul Raja. Paul submitted a statement to request the Magistrate to dismiss the case that was brought against the longhouse residents.

In his statement, Paul argued that the longhouse residents should not be asked to sign the bond under Section 67 of the (CPC) because there is no such evidence that shows that the longhouse residents had committed any crime that allows the order for the bond to keep the peace to be signed. Paul also said that the evidence that was presented to Court by the prosecution was irrelevant as it has passed its limitation period.

However, the Magistrate rejected Paul's statement and decided that the case be tried.

In view of the Magistrate Court's decision, the longhouse residents were not happy therefore they asked Paul to appeal the decision to the High Court.

On 2nd April, 2001, the Miri High Court heard their appeal and ruled that the prosecution's case was irrelevant. The judge proposed that the prosecution should retract their case and he therefore ordered this case to be decided in its original Court.

On 6th February, 2002, the longhouse residents were produced at the Magistrate Court but this time the prosecution failed to produced any witnesses to testify with regards to the evidence that was brought forward in their sworn affidavits. With this, the Magistrate dismissed the case against the longhouse residents. - BRIMAS