The conviction and two-year jail sentence of 13 PAS supporters for rioting to protest the toppling of the Perak government four-and-a-half years ago, has shocked human rights NGO Lawyers for Liberty (LFL).
Yesterday, Sessions Court Judge Norsalha Hamzah found 13 opposition supporters guilty for rioting in front of Istana Iskandariah in 2009, where thousands had gathered to protest the swearing-in of Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir as Menteri Besar.
Norsalha ruled that the defence had failed to raise any reasonable doubt over the prosecution and sentenced the accused to two-year jail sentences and RM5,000 fines in default of five months’ jail each.
The court also refused a stay of execution, and the sentence had started from yesterday.
LFL adviser Eric Paulsen argued that the judge’s “appalling” decision was politically motivated, designed to punish those who went against the Barisan Nasional government.
“These are essentially politically-motivated charges and it is a clear signal that the authorities will misuse the full force of the law to muzzle and punish dissidents for political views that contravene that of Barisan Nasional,” he said.
The lawyer pointed out that following the judge’s call not to allow a stay of execution, appealing against the case would be useless as those who were successful would not be able to “enjoy the fruits of their labour”.
In noting that, Paulsen called on the judiciary not to make a mockery of the term “public interest” in equating it to the interest of the BN.
“We call upon the courts to uphold our constitutional rights, including freedom of speech, assembly and association,” he added.
On February 6, 2009, Zambry was sworn in as the chief of the state government before the Sultan as a crowd of 5,000 people marched to the palace to show their support for ousted MB Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin.
The Pakatan Rakyat state government led by Nizar crumbled after three assemblymen – two from PKR and one from DAP – decided to become BN-friendly independents.
The 13 accused had laid down on the road, hurled stones and water bottles in a bid to stop a convoy of cars from entering the palace compound during an emotionally-charged day, triggered by the fall of the PR government. – September 14, 2013.