KUALA LUMPUR: A Danish national today became the first person to be convicted and sentenced under the Anti-Fake News Act for making false claims on the time taken by the police to respond to the assassination of private university lecturer Dr Fadi M R Albatash.
Salah Salem Saleh Sulaiman, 46, who is of Yemeni descent, pleaded guilty to creating and publishing false news under Section 4(1) of the law which came into force on April 11. He was unrepresented in court.
The offence carries a maximum fine of RM500,000 or imprisonment of up to six years or both.
Sessions Court Judge Zaman Mohd Noor imposed a one-week imprisonment to take effect from the date of his arrest on April 23 and a fine of RM10,000.
As Salah could not pay the fine, he would spend another 30 days in jail.
The judge also ordered him to remove a one minute and 49 seconds video which he had posted on YouTube in which he claimed he was with the Palestinian victim during the assassination.
He also claimed he made 43 calls to the police who arrived at the scene 50 minutes later while an ambulance came only an hour later.
He committed the offence at the Idaman Puteri condominium in Jalan Meranti, Setapak, between 6.50am and 9am on April 21.
Police vehemently denied Salah’s claims, saying that a patrol car was despatched and arrived at the crime scene in Setapak within 10 minutes.
Police investigated Salah for tarnishing the image of the police force and Malaysia, and released a photo of Salah to seek public information on his whereabouts.
He was arrested on April 23 near the crime scene opposite the victim’s condominium.
Salah, who had been employed as a horse groomer in Denmark, came to Malaysia on April 11 on a three-week social visit visa and was staying with a friend at a condominium nearby.
He pleaded for leniency, saying he was ignorant about the laws in Malaysia.
“I apologise to everyone in Malaysia,” he added.
Salah is married with three wives and six children.
Government lawyer Noor Jazilah Mohd Yushaa urged the court to impose an appropriate sentence to serve as a deterrent to other would-be offenders.
“His act has tarnished the image of the police force and the nation, and hurt the feelings of the victim’s family,” she said.
Batash was gunned down at about 6am on April 21 as he was walking from his condominium to a nearby surau in Jalan Meranti for dawn prayers.
He was shot more than 10 times at close range by two unidentified men on a motorcycle.
Preliminary investigation showed that Batash was to have left for Turkey in the afternoon to attend an international conference.