Court swaps jail term with fine for Meru rep convicted of sedition

PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal today fined Fakhrulrazi Mohd Mokhtar RM1,800 in lieu of the initial jail term imposed on the Meru assemblyman for his sedition conviction.

“We are setting aside the jail term imposed by the High Court,” Umi Kalthum Abdul Majid said in allowing Fakhrulrazi’s appeal against the sentence.

The fine will enable Fakhrulrazi to remain as an assemblyman. Under Malaysian law, an elected representative must vacate his seat if jailed for a year or fined RM2,000.

Fakhrulrazi’s lawyer Ariff Azami Hussein earlier said his client was dropping his appeal against the conviction but would continue to appeal against the sentence.

Ariff said the jail term was excessive and harsh as Fakhrulrazi was an assemblyman.

“The people of Meru will be deprived of their assemblyman if he goes to jail,” he said.

He added that there had been no violence or demonstration of any kind after Fakhrulrazi’s statement.

Deputy public prosecutor Tetralina Abdul Majid did not object to Fakhrulrazi’s appeal, saying the custodial sentence was excessive.

On Feb 27 last year, the High Court maintained the eight-month jail sentence on Fakhrulrazi, who is Amanah Youth vice-chief.

Justice Azman Abdullah said the ruling by the Sessions Court in August 2016, after finding that Fakhrulrazi’s criticism of Anwar Ibrahim’s Sodomy 2 judgment had the tendency to incite hatred towards the government and judiciary, was correct.

In a brief written judgment, Azman said he agreed with the findings of the lower court. He added that the charge against Fakhrulrazi was not defective, and that there was no miscarriage of justice.

The court also dismissed deputy public prosecutor Zaki Asyraf Zubir’s appeal to increase the eight-month jail sentence.

However, it allowed a stay of execution pending Fakhrulrazi’s final appeal at the Court of Appeal.

Fakhrulrazi was sentenced by the Sessions Court under Section 4 (1)(b) of the Sedition Act for making a seditious speech during the #KitaLawan rally in 2015.

Eight other activists, including then-chairman of Bersih 2.0 Maria Chin Abdullah and manager Mandeep Singh were charged in connection with the rally.