PUTRAJAYA: A new Court of Appeal bench will be constituted to hear the sedition appeal of student activist Adam Adli Abdul Halim following an application by a government lawyer.
Bench chairman Mohtarudin Baki discharged himself after deputy public prosecutor Faizah Mohd Salleh informed the judge he had been in another panel that acquitted an appellant in a similar case.
On Dec 20, a three-man bench chaired by Mohtarudin had acquitted former student activist Muhammad Safwan Anang.
The judge today said he would discharge himself since the prosecution was of the opinion that he would be biased.
He said he was withdrawing myself and someone else would “replace me as justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done”, he said.
The other members on the bench were justices Harminder Singh Dhaliwal and Abdul Karim Abdul Jalail.
Adam’s lawyer Gurdial Singh Nijar objected to the prosecution’s application, saying that each case differed in the facts.
He said there were new legal issues that would be raised in Adam’s case that were not included in Safwan’s appeal.
Gurdial said he was surprised by the application as the prosecution had not raised this issue at the previous proceeding.
“I believe the prosecution would not have applied for a recusal if Safwan’s decision had been in their favour. There must be some level playing field,” he said.
A case management will be held tomorrow to fix a new appeal date.
Adam and Safwan were accused of making seditious speeches on May 13, 2013, a week after the 13th general election after the Barisan Nasional was returned to power.
Adam was found guilty by the Sessions Court on Sept 19, 2014 and was sentenced to 12 months’ jail.
The High Court, however, while upholding Adam’s conviction in February last year, substituted the jail term with a fine of RM5,000.
The government has cross-appealed to enhance his sentence which could range from a maximum fine of RM5,000 to three years’ jail or both.