Lawyers laud trials conducted during MCO
An aerial view of the Kuala Lumpur High Court April 23, 2020. Legal practitioners are also of the opinion that frequent postponement of criminal case trials would also burden all parties involved, including the lawyers and accused. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 21 — To ensure justice is served, legal practitioners laud the move by the judiciary to continue the hearing of cases in court during the movement control order (MCO) period following the Covid-19 pandemic.

They are also of the opinion that frequent postponement of criminal case trials would also burden all parties involved, including the lawyers and accused.

Lawyer Azi Azlin Zulkifli said case hearings that were postponed for too long following the MCO would affect the witnesses in terms of recollecting the crime incidents in question.

“In my opinion, the directive issued (by Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimum Tuan Mat) is in keeping with the legal maxim, namely, ‘justice delayed is justice denied’.

“The courts should be allowed to convene for all cases because there is no obstacle for the other government agencies to function. For example, the government hospitals are operating at higher capacities than the courts,” he told Bernama, here, today.

Sharing his opinion was lawyer Siti Nor Syahidah Ismail who reiterated that frequent postponements of case trials would burden all parties concerned.

Lawyer Azman Abdullah said most cases were postponed for the duration of the MCO and this had affected the rights of the accused who were being remanded in jail for the case trials which should have ended earlier.

He said the handling of bails was also rather difficult with cases often put off and the accused not taken to court due to Covid-19.

He said although the court proceedings would go on as usual from this January 27, the standard operating procedure (SOP) must be strictly complied with to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Yesterday, Tengku Maimun issued a directive for all criminal case proceedings including those of public interest to continue in open court in the states placed under the MCO effective January 27.

According to the directive, among the criminal cases that will be given priority are the pre-2020 ones by giving preference to the continuation of trials, cases involving child offenders and those of public interest.

These encompass corruption, commercial crime, environmental, habeas corpus, domestic violence and flouting the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 cases. — Bernama