KUCHING: The High Court has reinstated the statutory rape case, in which a Sessions Court judge had ruled that the accused Ahmad Syukri Yusuf, 28, be discharged not amounting to acquittal because he has married the victim.
Judge Afidah Abdul Rahman in explaining her judgment on July 25 said: “Since the complainant and the victim of the subject matter of this case wish to withdraw the complaint against the accused
on the ground that she is now married to him, there is no necessity to proceed further with this case.”
Her reason for the ruling raised a storm of protests after it was reported on this newspaper, which resulted in the High Court’s decision yesterday after Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Abdul Hafiz Abdul Hamid appealed for the revision of the decision.
The High Court ordered Sept 26 to 27 to be set aside for the case to be heard in Sessions Court, and set bail at RM8,000 for Ahmad Syukri.
It is said that the accused committed statutory rape on the girl twice last year – the first around 10am sometime in the middle of October and next, around 1pm on Oct 16.
The girl was 14 then.
In his argument, Ahmad Syukri’s lawyer Azam Trudin said he had submitted to the Sessions Court that the accused and victim were legally married, and that their marriage certificate was produced in court.
Statutory rape, under Section 376 (1) of the Penal Code, provides for a maximum 20-year imprisonment and whipping upon conviction.
Relevant ministries at both state and federal level had voiced out their concern over the Sessions Court ruling, saying that it
would set a dangerous precedent for child rapists to escape punishment.
State Welfare, Women and Community Wellbeing Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah said she did not want the issue to ‘snowball into a rampant social problem’.
Federal Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim strongly underlined: “A rape is a rape.”
She believed that the offender must go through punishment upon conviction and should not be allowed to escape through marrying the victim.
The case against Ahmad Syukri was being compared with the
case against a 41-year-old restaurant manager in Kota Kinabalu, Riduan Masmud, who was sentenced to 12 years in jail for raping a 12-year-old in February 2014, even though he later married the victim.
Riduan was charged with rape shortly after the act, but later he told the court that he had married the girl.
Due to public outcry, the prosecutors maintained their stance and pursued the rape charge.
The court, in passing the sentence, said even though the marriage was still valid, Riduan was still guilty of statutory rape.