By Shannon Teoh
KUALA LUMPUR, May 18 — Two policemen have pleaded not guilty to assaulting Guang Ming Daily photographer Wong Kin Onn during the chaotic April 28 Bersih 3.0 rally in the city.
Mohd Khairul Asri Mohd Sobri and Shahrul Niza Abd Jalil were allowed bail at RM3,000 each after they claimed trial at the magistrates’ court here.
If convicted under Section 350 of the Penal Code for using criminal violence, they face up to three months’ jail and/or a RM1,000 fine.
According to the proffered charge, Khairul and Shahrul Niza — together with two others still at large — allegedly attacked Wong at the junction of Jalan Tun Perak and Jalan Raja between 5.20pm and 5.30pm on April 28.
Datuk Seri Najib Razak had pledged early this month that “credible, experienced and respectable” individuals would investigate the events during Bersih’s third rally for free and fair elections, which descended into chaos after police clashed with protestors.
But the prime minister then said the real purpose of the opposition-backed Bersih rally was to “fight, kick and strip the police” while calling on his party to ensure “uncivilised enemies” were not allowed to “destroy the country.”
Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders have also repeatedly defended the police who they say were victims of violence at the rally.
Influential former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has insisted that police acted in self-defence while Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has also claimed some participants in the rally wanted deaths to occur.
The April 28 rally, which saw tens of thousands gather at six different locations before heading to Dataran Merdeka, was peaceful until about 2.30pm when Bersih chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan asked the crowd to disperse.
But her call was not heard by most of the crowd who persisted around the historic square, which the court had already barred to the public over the weekend.
Just before 3pm, some protestors breached the barricade surrounding the landmark, leading police to disperse the crowd with tear gas and water cannons.
Police then continued to pursue the rally-goers down several streets amid chaotic scenes which saw violence from both sides over the next four hours.