Blogger Raja Petra taken to prison after declining bail on sedition charge
By M. MAGESWARI and MANJIT KAUR
PETALING JAYA: The editor of news portal Malaysia Today, Raja Petra Raja Kamarudin, claimed trial in the Sessions Court here to publishing a seditious article in its website on April 25 while businessman Syed Akbar Ali claimed trial to posting a seditious comment.
Raja Petra, 58, became the first blogger to be charged under the Sedition Act, making it a test case.
He is accused of publishing the article Lets send the Altantuya murderers to hell in the website http://www.malaysia-today.net. The article is alleged to have contained nine paragraphs of seditious words.
He is said to have committed the offence at his house in Jalan BRP 5/5 in Bukit Rahman Putra in Sungai Buloh that day.
When the interpreter read out to him the alleged seditious words, Judge Nurmala Salim interjected by asking her to pronounce the exact words as highlighted in the six pages of Appendix A.
The interpreter took 11 minutes to read out the allegedly seditious words to him.
Upon hearing the details of his charge from the interpreter at noon, Raja Petra, who clasped his hands behind his back, claimed trial.
Clad in a short-sleeved yellow shirt and blue jeans, Raja Petra was composed throughout the court proceedings.
If convicted, he can be fined a maximum of RM5,000 or jailed up to three years or both under Section 4(1)© of the Act.
At this juncture, lead counsel K. Balaguru raised a preliminary objection saying that the charge did not state the time of the alleged offence.
He said the prosecution should have classified which category of the Act that his client had allegedly infringed.
At that point, the court was adjourned for 10 minutes after Balaguru informed the judge that veteran lawyer Karpal Singh would also appear for his client.
When the court resumed, Balaguru withdrew his preliminary objection.
Queried on prosecution witnesses, Nordin said he would be calling 15 witnesses and would prefer a week for the trial.
Nurmala set five days from Oct 6 for trial. Raja Petra declined to post bail and was taken to Sg Buloh prison later.
In Kuala Lumpurs Jalan Duta Sessions Court, Syed Akbar Ali, 48, pleaded not guilty to posting the comment on Arabs and Islam with Raja Petras article titled Malaysias organised crime syndicate: all roads lead to Putrajaya on June 5 last year.
The former banker looked calm when the charge was read out to him.
The offence was allegedly committed at 2.59pm at Zeenath Begum Jewellers Sdn Bhd in Jalan Masjid India.
Judge S.M. Komathy Suppiah granted bail at RM3,000 and fixed June 10 for submissions on the charge.
He posted bail.