Friday, January 20, 2012

Karpal says appealing reversal of sedition acquittal

Karpal says appealing reversal of sedition acquittal

By Clara Chooi
January 20, 2012
Malaysian Insider

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 20 — Karpal Singh said today he will appeal this morning’s Court of Appeal decision to call for his defence in his sedition charge over remarks involving the Perak Sultan.

The DAP chairman told reporters here that although the call for his defence was “not a final order and therefore not appealable”, it could be deemed unconstitutional if his right to appeal were denied.

He pointed out that had the Court of Appeal decided today to uphold the High Court’s decision to acquit and discharge him, the prosecution would have likely exercised its right to appeal the case with the apex court.

“I think I have the option to take it up to the Federal Court... although there’s an authority which says that if defence is called, then it is not a final order and therefore not appealable.

“So clearly there is discrimination when it comes to this,” he said.

Karpal said he believed his bid could be a test case to determine the constitutionality of denying a defendant the right to appeal once he is ordered to enter a defence.

The Court of Appeal today allowed an appeal by the Attorney-General’s Chambers against a High Court’s decision to acquit and discharge Karpal of a charge of uttering seditious words against the Perak Sultan during the height of the state’s constitutional crisis in 2009.

Justice Datuk Ahmad Maarop who sat with justices Datuk Clement Alan Skinner and Datuk Mohamad Apandi Ali, said the appellants had successfully proved a prima facie case against the DAP chairman and ordered him to enter his defence.

Karpal had been indicted under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act 1948 for allegedly uttering seditious words against the Perak Sultan at his legal firm in Jalan Pudu Lama, Kuala Lumpur on February 6, 2009, during the Perak constitutional crisis.

He is alleged to have said that the removal of Datuk Seri Mohamad Nizar Jamaluddin as Perak mentri besar and the appointment of Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir by the Sultan could be questioned in a court of law.

Karpal was later acquitted of the charges by trial judge Azman Abdullah. The A-G’s Chambers subsequently filed its appeal last year, contending that the judge had taken a wrong approach when he ruled the prosecution had failed to prove prima facie.

“I accept the decision for the moment. But let it be brought on to the Federal Court and see what happens there,” said Karpal.

He maintained, however, that the Sedition Act 1949 was an “archaic” piece of legislation that should be repealed as it violates an individual’s constitutional right to free speech.

“In fact, if the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) comes to power, and I think there is every likelihood that we will come to power, we will give priority to repealing the Act through Parliament,” he vowed.

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