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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3, 2015:

The special investigative and procedural powers under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) have been proven to be of much use, says former Attorney General (A-G) Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail.

This was especially so in the case of the Lahad Datu intrusion by Sulus when several people were detained and investigations involving Islamic State (IS) members.

However, on criticisms that Sosma had extended its use to other security offences, Gani said that had to be referred to the first schedule under the act and it was up to the courts to decide.

Specifically mentioning the case of former Batu Kawan Umno deputy chief Datuk Khairuddin Abu Hassan and his lawyer, Matthias Chang, Abdul Gani declined to comment on the case, saying that the courts will decide on the legality of the case.

“As a professional, I will not discuss them. Until I know the facts, I won’t comment.

“It’s a subject matter brought to the courts and that will have to be settled in court. On legality, we will wait for the court’s decision.

“Let’s see what happens,” he told those attending the forum “Sosma: Wolf in sheep’s clothing?” held at the Straits Trading Building, organised by the Bar Council.

Abdul Gani, however, did explain that Sosma was intended to combat terrorism and terrorists and not to suppress political beliefs.

While other lawyers at the forum, including Bar Council president Steven Thiru and lawyer Amer Hamzah Arshad, argued in their speeches that this was not the case with Khairuddin and Chang, Abdul Gani, in his speech, said that there were guidelines on the use of Sosma.

He added that there were also several safeguards against the misuse of Sosma that should be looked into.

“Those guidelines are for the enforcement on how to arrest, including the electronic monitoring devices, guidelines on notification of next of kin, guidelines in detention of prisoners and so on.”

On the safeguards, Abdul Gani referred to seven safeguards that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had read out when the bill was passed.

Among the seven, which the former A-G read out from a Parliament Hansard, were for no one to be arrested for political beliefs, power to detain is for investigative purposes only, for police to notify next of kin of those arrested immediately and for police to give investigation papers to the public prosecutor for action, otherwise the detainee had to be released.

Another safeguard was also for the government to set up a committee to oversee the act from time to time and advise on any improvements needed.

“Who is in this committee would be interesting to see.

“These are things we should be asking for if you are concerned about all these aspects. You should be asking for … where is the committee, do the check and balance.

“This is something good. I think it’s a good thing he has promised. Sometimes it needs to be reminded, for the president to bring this matter up,” he said, referring to Steven.

Abdul Gani made his first public appearance tonight since his dismissal in July, when he was replaced by Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali.

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