Hafiz Yatim | Jun 18, 09 11:32am
|The Kuala Lumpur Magistrate’s Court today found five undergraduates guilty of taking part in an illegal anti-Internal Security Act rally eight years ago.
They were fined RM3,900 each or three months’ jail. Their application for a stay was rejected.
Magistrate Azniza Mohd Ali, however, acquitted one other student from the charge.
The five, aged between 28 and 31, were Rafzan Ramli, Khairul Amal Mahmud, Ahmad Kamal Abdul Hamid, Nik Norhafizi Nik Ismail and Zulkefle Idris, all from local universities.
They have been suspended from continuing their studies by their respective universities under the Universities and University Colleges Act after being charged for participating in the June 2001 rally.
Helman Samsudin was the student who was acquitted.
Another student, who was charged together with the rest, Wan Sanusi Wan Mohd Noor, has been missing since they were called to enter their defence.
Immediately after the judgment, several university student leaders, PAS representatives and non-governmental organisations managed to collect enough funds to pay the fine.
The five were represented by Latheefa Koya, Amer Hamzah Arshad, Nik Mohamed Ikhwan Nik Mahmud and Zulkefli Omar.
Initially, all seven were acquitted by the Magistrates Court after the magistrate had ruled that the prosecution had failed to raise a prima facie case.
However, in November 2006, the Kuala Lumpur High Court had allowed the appeal made by the Attorney-General’s Chambers for a re-trial of the seven.
The seven were charged with illegal assembly in connection with a protest rally against the ISA held outside the National Mosque on June 8, 2001.
Fine too hefty
In mitigation, Amer Hamzah said the students were merely exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly.
“The students have been punished enough as they lost their university education and part of their future,” he said, urging the court to impose a fine and not custodial sentence as this was a minor offence.
Deputy public prosecutor Mohd Abazafree Mohd Abas said it was a difficult task being a public prosecutor to ask for a deterrent sentence as this involved students.
However, he said: “Since the 1990s and early 2000 and even lately, there have been an increase in public protests. The court should sent the right message to the public so it would deter others.”
In sentencing, Aniza said she had considered the facts of the case, their mitigation and most important of all, public interest.
“I hope you learn from your mistake. You are still young and have a bright future,” she added.
Before the start of the case, various student bodies held a peaceful demonstration outside the court complex in a show of support for the accused.
They called for the abolishment of the ISA and the Universities and University Colleges Act.
Newly appointed PAS information chief Idris Ahmad expressed disappointment that the fine imposed by the magistrate was high as the minimal fine imposed should have been RM2,000.