Bukit Katil MP fails to stall trial for gathering at mosque

Shamsul-IskandarKUALA LUMPUR: The Sessions Court today refused to suspend the trial of Bukit Katil MP Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin, who is challenging the constitutionality of a provision in the Peaceful Assembly Act which makes it an offence to gather in a place of worship.

Sessions Court Judge Syed Faizal Syed Amir said there was no merit in the application to stay the trial pending the outcome of Shamsul’s appeal in the Court of Appeal.

Syed Faizal has fixed two days from Jan 29 for the defence to continue the case.

A disappointed Shamsul said he had expected the trial judge to give him a reprieve to allow the Court of Appeal to rule whether Section 4 (2) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 contravened Article 10 (1) (b) of the Federal Constitution, which allowed citizens to gather peacefully.

The charge provides for a maximum fine of RM20,000 upon conviction.

Defence counsel Yusmadi Yusof said Shamsul risked being disqualified from participating in the 14th general election if he was convicted and fined more than RM2,000.

Under Article 48 of the Federal Constitution, MPs are disqualified from holding office if they are sentenced to more than a year in prison or fined more than RM2,000.

Shamsul, together with then deputy PKR Youth chief Khairul Anuar Ahmad Zainuddin and vice-chief Mohd Nazree Mohd Yunus, were charged with participating in a gathering at a restricted area, which is a place of worship.

The offence is alleged to have occurred at the compound of Masjid Ar-Rahman at Universiti Malaya in Jalan Pantai Baharu, between noon and 1.15pm, on June 22, 2013.

Midway after Shamsul had entered his defence last year, he filed an application to the High Court to refer his constitutional challenge straight to the Federal Court.

The other two did not mount the constitutional challenge.

However, Justice Mohd Sofian Abd Razak dismissed Shamsul’s application, citing Section 4(2) did not contravene Article 10.

He ordered Shamsul to return to the Sessions Court to continue with his defence.

Shamsul then file an appeal to the Court of Appeal and applied for a stay of proceeding in the Sessions Court.