Mon, Apr 30, 2012 - Page 4 News List

Hundreds of Malaysian protesters are freed, but many may still face charges

AFP, KUALA LUMPUR

Malaysian police said yesterday that all 471 people arrested during a demonstration for free and fair elections, including a senior opposition lawmaker, have been freed.

“We have released all of them,” national police spokesman Ramli Yoosuf said, adding that the member of parliament had been identified as Tian Chua from Anwar Ibrahim’s Keadilan party.

Security forces would decide later whether to file charges against the demonstrators, he said.

Police fired chemical-laced water and teargas on Saturday at thousands of protesters calling for clean elections after some breached the Merdeka (Independence) Square, which had been declared a banned area for demonstrators.

Police estimated at least 30,000 people participated in the rally, while the independent Malaysian media put the number at more than twice that.

The street protest — a rare event in Malaysia — was held in the capital Kuala Lumpur by a coalition known as Bersih, or clean, in the Malay language.

It is pressing the government to review the country’s election system and clean up the electoral roll before the next elections, expected in the coming months.

However, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak denied any electoral bias.

Speculation is rife that Najib could call polls as early as June.

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