Tuesday, November 12

Appeals Court upholds jail sentence on blogger


PUTRAJAYA: Blogger Amizudin Ahmat has lost his appeal to set aside a High Court decision to sentence him to three months’ jail for contempt of court over contemptuous articles against former information communication and culture minister Datuk Seri (now Tan Sri) Dr Rais Yatim.

Amizudin was found to be in contempt by a High Court in Kuala Lumpur on Aug 10, last year for further publishing defamatory articles on Rais.

Yesterday, a Court of Appeal’s three-member panel chaired by Justice Datuk Zaharah Ibrahim unanimously dismissed Amizudin’s appeal and upheld the High Court ruling.

In her ruling, she said the court was unable to find any error by the High Court in finding Amizudin, 43, liable for contempt.

“The order in compelling him to three months’ jail is not excessive and does not merit our intervention,” said Zaharah, who presided on the panel with justices Datuk Alizatul Khair Osman Khairuddin and Datuk Anantham Kasinater.

Zaharah, however, granted him a stay of the Court of Appeal’s decision until disposal of his application for leave to appeal against yesterday’s decision to the Federal Court.

She also ordered Amizudin to file his leave application within two weeks.

She said, if Amizudin did not file his leave application within the stipulated time, he should appear before the Court of Appeal after the expiry of that period to serve his sentence.

The panel dismissed the appeal with no order as to costs.

On Nov 21, 2011, Rais, 71, was granted leave to commence committal proceedings against Amizudin, in relation to a civil suit filed by him.

Rais won his defamation suit at the High Court which had on July 19, 2011, ordered Amizudin to pay RM300,000 in damages and RM100,000 in costs to the then minister.

Rais filed the suit on Jan 31, 2011, against Amizudin, who is a Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Youth Committee member, for defamation over an article posted on the latter’s blogsite, sharpshooterblogger.blogspot.com, on or about Dec 28, 2010.

The Court of Appeal had later upheld the High Court’s decision, saying that the award was not high, in view of Rais’ high social standing.

It, however, reduced the costs from RM100,000 to RM50,000.

Outside the court, Rais’ lawyer, Datuk Seri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, said the Court of Appeal’s decision today would raise the standard of the blogging world.

No one should be allowed to carry false news to destroy someone else’s character, he said, adding that the jail term would serve as a lesson and message, not only to bloggers but also reporters to be careful of what they wrote.

Meanwhile, Amizudin’s counsel, R Sivarasa told reporters his client was disappointed with the decision and that he would certainly file the leave to appeal application within the timeframe, as there was a novel point on Internet laws for the Federal Court to determine. — Bernama