KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8, 2015:
Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) has slammed the Federal Court’s decision to jail blogger Amizudin Ahmat for publishing contemptuous articles against former minister Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim.
The legal and human rights-based non-governmental organisation’s coordinator, Michelle Yesudas, in a statement, said that the three-month jail sentence for the blogger was excessive and disproportionate.
Michelle argued that in this Internet day and age, fast-paced stream of information and social networking, it was abhorrent to think that one could go to jail for merely pasting hyperlinks and updating one’s blog on on-going cases.
“Bearing in mind that decisions of the courts must be respected, a three-month jail sentence imposed on a pro-Opposition blogger at the behest of a former Umno minister reeks of overkill and double standards, especially when compared to the one-day jail contempt of court sentence imposed on Ibrahim Ali, which was eventually overturned by the Court of Appeal,” she said.
Michelle stressed that the imprisonment, as a result of a civil defamation suit between two individuals, was unnecessary, unlike a criminal matter that required imprisonment.
“The Federal Court had unfortunately failed to properly take into account the wider circumstances and context the articles were published.”
The blogger had continued to publish the articles in order to expose the grave injustice and crime that had allegedly been perpetrated, that remained not properly investigated despite being widely reported in the region,” she said, adding further that the blogger had since deleted all the articles and apologised to the court.
Michelle said that today’s decision created a bad precedent as it showed that rich and powerful men like the former Information, Communication and Culture Minister were able to display their influence by hiring high-profile lawyers like Tan Sri Mohammad Shafee Abdullah and putting an opinionated blogger in jail.
Amizudin was sent to prison today to serve his sentence after the Federal Court ruled so.
This is because he failed to obtain leave from the Federal Court here to appeal against the High Court decision which had found him to be in contempt for further publishing defamatory articles on Rais and had sentenced him to three months’ jail.
A five-member panel, chaired by Federal Court judge Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop, issued the committal warrant against Amizudin, 44, after rejecting his application for leave to appeal.