Friday, October 18

Insulting Islam: Decision Friday on whether to review Alister’s conviction, sentence

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KUCHING: The High Court here will decide tomorrow whether to review the conviction of and sentence meted on Alister Cogia for insulting Islam and Prophet Muhammad on Facebook.

Judge Azhahari Kamal Ramli made the decision because the court needed time to decide whether the sentence against the 22-year-old should be changed or retained.

Alister at the court complex yesterday.

Alister’s lawyer Francis Teron said yesterday he hoped the court will consider the decision.

“The court may reduce, maintain, and even set aside the sentence already imposed on Alister.

“The case can also be remanded to the lower court for proper consideration,” he said when met by reporters at the High Court here.

He said as Alister’s counsel, he is not concerned about any decisions made later.

“The important thing for us is that the court will have to consider and amend the existing sentence because the 10-year jail term and RM50,000 fine are quite heavy in this case,” he added.

Alister was sentenced to 10 years in jail and fined RM50,000 after he pleaded guilty in March this year to five charges of causing disunity on grounds of religion, and another five charges of making offensive comments online, through his Facebook account ‘Ayea Yea’.

Five charges were framed under Section 298A (1) (a) of the Penal Code and the other five, under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.

The court’s decision drew criticism from various parties who felt the punishment was excessive, with some seeking a re-examination of the case because Alister is said to be suffering from mental illness.

The High Court then ordered Alister to be sent to Sentosa Hospital here for a three-month mental examination.

However, the court on June 17 ruled that Alister’s mental health status was normal after a report from the hospital stated his mental state was normal throughout the three-month period.