KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court today ordered the government and police to pay RM18,000 in damages to cartoonist and activist Zunar over the seizure of his books and cartoon artwork seven years ago.
Zunar’s lawyer Latheefa Koya told reporters this after meeting High Court deputy registrar K Pavani in chambers to assess the damages over his lawsuit against the government and police.
“A consent judgment was entered between Zunar and the defendants, with the defendants paying him RM18,000 as part of the settlement,” she said.
Federal counsel Safiyyah Omar confirmed the details.
Zunar, whose real name is Zulkiflee SM Anwar Haque, and his company, Sepakat Efektif Sdn Bhd, sued two police officers, A Arikrisna and Marina Hashim, along with former inspector-general of police Ismail Omar and the government in 2011 for unlawful detention and false imprisonment.
The High Court dismissed his lawsuit in 2012 but ruled that the seizure and continued possession of 66 books titled “Cartoon-O-Phobia” and artistic collage was unlawful and ordered damages to be assessed.
The Court of Appeal upheld the decision in 2013.
In a media statement after obtaining his decision, Zunar said the seizure of his artworks under the Sedition Act was a violation of his rights and freedom of expression.
“To keep the artworks under police custody for five years and damaging it is a more serious offence.
“It is clearly an act of intimidation and lack of respect for the works of art,” he said.
The activist also said police had yet to return over 1,300 of his books and cartoons confiscated in November last year in Kuala Lumpur and Penang.
“I will take legal action for the police to return them as they are. They have to be responsible for damages if any.”