PETALING JAYA: The lawyer for a Datin who pleaded guilty to abusing her maid has urged critics to let his client exhaust all appeal processes before passing judgment.
Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla said the appellate courts must be allowed to conduct a fair hearing on Rozita Mohd Ali without pressure.
“What if the Court of Appeal, in the light of all the facts which the public may not be aware of, decides that the Sessions Court was correct in imposing a non-custodial sentence?” he asked.
Haniff was responding to a statement by civil society group Tenaganita which expressed concern after the Court of Appeal yesterday suspended Rozita’s eight-year jail term.
Its executive director, Glorene A Das, said the social implications of such “a light sentence” should be considered.
“It is so apparent that we are cultivating a culture of ‘you commit a crime, then plead remorse – and walk free with impunity’,” she said.
Haniff said the remark was uncalled for as Rozita’s final appeal had not been heard and disposed of.
Rozita, 44, pleaded guilty on March 15 to voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons to her Indonesian maid, Suyanti Sutrinso.
Sessions Court judge Mohammed Mokhzani Mokhtar released Rozita on a RM20,000 good behaviour bond for five years.
Two weeks later, the High Court substituted the bond with an eight-year prison term.
Judicial commissioner Tun Majid Tun Hamzah also disallowed Rozita’s application to stay the sentence pending appeal. She has been in Kajang prison over the last two months.
Yesterday, a three-member Court of Appeal bench chaired by Ahmadi Asnawi, in allowing her fresh stay application, suspended Rozita’s jail term pending the hearing of the appeal.
The bench, however, ordered her to post RM25,000 bail in two sureties and impounded her passport. It also ordered her to report to the Damansara Utama police station once every two weeks.
Haniff said his client had good grounds to defend the Sessions Court’s decision, and that she suffered from medical problems.
He said the bound-over order was not tantamount to letting the guilty person go scot-free.
“This is because the Sessions Court also made it clear that if in these five years, the appellant (Rozita) commits any other crime, she will automatically serve a 10-year imprisonment sentence.
“Doesn’t this sentence serve justice better if the court finds there were extenuating circumstances to allow her this ‘false’ liberty on bond of good behaviour?” he asked.
Haniff said the public, especially Tenaganita, must be appraised of the evidence at the trial where the victim had unreservedly and unequivocally expressed her wish for Rozita not to serve a jail sentence due to facts which only both were privy to.
He said Suyanti, with the assistance of Indonesian embassy officials, had lodged another police report which was tendered as evidence in court.
Haniff said the victim had also given a statement again to the police, telling them that she wanted to withdraw the earlier report and the charge against her employer of her own will.
“Is justice actually served by the wants of society which does not know the full details?” he asked.
He said 70,000 people had signed a petition following the Sessions Court ruling which resulted in the High Court calling up the case for revision, despite the public prosecutor having filed an appeal against the sentence the very next day.
“The public must allow the judicial system to determine the process legally without putting it under pressure,” he said.
A video of Suyanti, seriously injured and lying near a drain in a housing area in Mutiara Damansara, went viral in December 2016.
It was reported then that Rozita had allegedly used a kitchen knife, a clothes hanger, a steel mop and an umbrella to cause multiple injuries to Suyanti’s head, hands, legs and internal organs.