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Friday, 8 November, 2002, 13:41 GMT
Malaysian terror suspect wins appeal
A pro-Taliban protester makes his voice heard last autumn
Malaysia has arrested dozens of suspected militants

A court in Malaysia has ordered the release of a businessman held for more than six months on suspicion of belonging to an Islamic militant group with links to al-Qaeda.

Part of a banner protesting against the ISA
Nasharuddin was held under the unpopular Internal Security Act
It is the first time a court has upheld an appeal against the arrest of any of more than 70 suspected militants detained by Malaysian authorities in the wake of the 11 September attacks on the United States.

The businessman, Nasharuddin Nasir, was one of 13 people arrested in a swoop in April against the Malaysian Militant Group, or KMM.

The group is alleged to have links to al-Qaeda through Jemaah Islamiah, an organisation that some governments accuse of having been behind the Bali bombings in October.

'No proof'

The court in the city of Shah Alam, near Kuala Lumpur, ordered Mr Nasharuddin's release, saying that the police had produced no evidence to show that he had been involved in any terrorist activities.

It also ruled that an order by Malaysia's home minister to extend his detention was unlawful because it was based on police advice, and was thus tainted because of the lack of evidence.

It is not clear when he will be set free.

It is the first time a court has upheld a challenge by any of the 70 or so people detained in recent months under the country's internal security act on suspicion of belonging to violent, Islamic militant groups.

The act allows for indefinite detention without charge or trial, though detainees are allowed a legal review every six months.

Malaysia's militants

Opposition groups say the act is draconian and have accused the government of using it to silence legitimate protest.

But government supporters are likely to argue that the fact that a court has overturned a detention order, shows that the checks and balances written into the act, work.

Police say they have identified at least 11 groups in Malaysia they suspect of militant activity.

However few are thought to pose any serious threat to the country's security.

See also:

21 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
18 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
17 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
16 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
24 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
04 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
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