SHAH ALAM: The High Court here today freed Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli from a charge of insulting Umno members in a newspaper interview three years ago.
Judge Ghazali Cha allowed Rafizi’s appeal against his conviction on the charge under Section 504 of the Penal Code for insulting and provoking anger among Umno members, saying the charge was not proven.
“The charge had failed to state how the accused had provoked a breach of peace from his interview.
“And the subsequent reaction from Selangor Umno members who were said to have been insulted from the accused’s statement, was only lodging a police report against Rafizi and nothing on incidents that are capable of provoking public peace,” the judge said.
He ruled that the charge against the PKR vice-president was defective and would be “a waste of the court’s time” if it went to a trial.
Ghazali also ordered the RM1,800 fine paid by Rafizi last year to be refunded.
Speaking to reporters outside the court, Rafizi said he was grateful over the acquittal.
“The court had set the record straight to be a precedent for politicians on giving political statements, that they could not be charged for their political statements,” he said.
Meanwhile, lawyer Gobind Singh said the decision would serve as a guide for future cases under Section 504.
Deputy public prosecutor Iskandar Ahmad when approached outside the court said he would seek the Attorney-General’s instruction on whether to appeal against Rafizi’s acquittal.
Last year, Rafizi was fined RM1,800 by the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court, which found him guilty of insulting and provoking anger among Umno members in an interview.
He had claimed that Umno was behind the religious attacks in Selangor in 2014.
His statement appeared in an article entitled “Analyst: Will Rafizi quit if Selangor not toppled?” which was published in the now defunct news portal, fz.com, and in The Edge Financial Daily.
In handing down the sentence, the Sessions Court took into consideration his position as an MP who was not supposed to utter statements which could raise public ire.
Rafizi paid the fine. However, he has two other convictions: for organising a Black 505 rally without a 10-day notice under the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA), and breaching the Official Secrets Act (OSA) by leaking details on the 1MDB audit report.
He was fined RM1,950 for the offence under Section 9(1)(a) of PAA last year by the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court.
For the OSA-related offence, he was handed a three-year jail sentence by the Sessions Court for two charges of possessing and leaking page 98 of the report.
He has appealed against the OSA conviction and custodial sentence.
He also faces another charge under the Banking and Financial Institution Act for revealing confidential banking details in relation to the National Feedlot Corp (NFC) scandal.
Rafizi will be unable to stand in the coming election if he fails to set aside his OSA conviction and jail sentence.
Article 48 of the Federal Constitution disqualifies a person from being an MP for five years should the elected representative be convicted and sentenced to more than one year in jail, or fined more than RM2,000.