Returning officer files appeal against jail term

Returning officer Amino Agos Suyub.

PETALING JAYA: The returning officer who was sentenced to three months’ prison for contempt of court over coaching a witness in a petition brought by a PKR candidate has filed an appeal against the jail term.

Amino Agos Suyub also filed a stay of execution pending the disposal of his appeal in the Court of Appeal.

The Rembau district officer additionally filed a certificate of urgency for the appellate court to dispose of the matter at the earliest possible time.

He filed the notice of appeal and application for stay of execution yesterday through legal firm Messrs Shearn & Delamore.

In an affidavit to support his appeal to suspend the sentence, Agos said he was not given enough time to prepare his defence after being issued a show-cause by election judge Azimah Omar.

He added that he was unable to call any witnesses to rebut the contempt charges and was not given a copy of the charge sheet.

He said he could be subject to disciplinary action, including being sacked from the civil service following the jail term imposed by the court.

He claimed the judge failed to take into account his explanation that he had no intention of guiding Daing Muhamad Rahimi Abdul Hamid, but had merely expressed his feelings about the court proceedings on Oct 2.

He said Azimah had also failed to consider his apology at the earliest possible time after refusing to accept his explanation.

On Wednesday, Azimah, who handed Agos the sentence, said the court must send a strong message that general elections or by-elections must be conducted in a free and fair manner.

She said she took into consideration Agos’ family background, his occupation and the consequences of her ruling.

“The court also weighed the mitigating factors and public interest. However, your action was serious as this is an election petition,” she said.

The court cited Agos for contempt of court, saying he had guided his former subordinate, Daing Muhamad, a witness, to give evidence in the petition.

Azimah said Agos’ conduct amounted to interference in the administration of justice and ordered him to show cause why he should not be punished.

Agos, who took the stand, apologised to the court and said he had no intention of interfering in the proceedings. However, the judge refused to accept his explanation.

Daing Muhamad, who was cross-examined on Oct 4, said Agos had sent him several text messages summarising his evidence and guiding him on how to give his testimony.

He had written in a message: “As Salam… After this be careful when you become a witness… I was severely questioned in court… It’s better to say that you don’t know…”

Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla, the lawyer of petitioner Dr Streram Sinnasamy, had requested that the judge take notice of the messages and initiate contempt proceedings against Agos.

Streram had brought the action against Agos, the Election Commission (EC) and Mohamad Hasan, the incumbent assemblyman for Rantau.

He said Agos and the EC had denied him his right to contest the Rantau seat in the May 9 general election.

He said he was never informed by the EC or its agents that name tags or entry passes were required to enter the Dewan Sri Rembau nomination centre.

The Rantau state assembly seat was won uncontested by Mohamad, the former Negeri Sembilan menteri besar and assemblyman for the constituency since 2004.

However, Streram sought for the election court to declare Mohamad’s victory illegal and that a by-election be held.

He said the EC had breached provisions in the Election Offences Act 1954 and regulations, and had denied him the constitutional right to contest in the election.