Malaysia

Ibrahim Ali, blogger jailed in contempt case

Ibrahim Ali is all smiles to the media after receiving the 1-day jail sentence and RM20,000 fine for contempt of court at the KL High Court today. The Malaysian Insider pic by Najjua Zulkefli, November 19, 2013.Ibrahim Ali is all smiles to the media after receiving the 1-day jail sentence and RM20,000 fine for contempt of court at the KL High Court today. The Malaysian Insider pic by Najjua Zulkefli, November 19, 2013.Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali was sentenced to one day in jail and fined RM20,000 after being held in contempt by the Kuala Lumpur High Court today.

This was over an article by blogger Zainuddin Salleh published in the Perkasa website, which had allegedly tarnished the image of High Court judge Datuk V.T. Singham.

Singham had presided over a defamation suit by opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim against Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd.

High Court judge Datuk John Louis O'Hara today also sentenced Zainuddin to four weeks' jail, leaving both Ibrahim and Zainuddin in shock when the verdict and sentencing were read out.

In an immediate response, Anwar's lawyer, R. Sivarasa, said this was a fair verdict given the seriousness of the act, where the duo were responsible for the publication of the article which he described as a "personal and scurrilous attack on judge Singham".

"This article could not have been let off without a response. This is the most extreme scurrilous written attack on the judiciary. I think Zainuddin can consider himself lucky he only got four weeks' jail.

"In comparison, the imam who threw his shoes at the judge got 12 months' jail," Sivarasa said.

He was referring to the case of Hoslan Hussin, the imam who flung his shoes at the Federal Court bench in February last year after it struck out his bid to challenge an eviction order from a city mosque here in 1999 on a technicality.

According to Sivarasa, in his judgment today, O'Hara ruled that Zainuddin had written and published an article that scandalised the judiciary, and judge Singham, in particular.

O'Hara also said that the article was a clear attempt to put pressure on the court in the decision on the defamation suit, which was pending then.

O'Hara added that Ibrahim, as president of Perkasa, was guilty of contempt as he did nothing to distance himself and his organisation from the article posted in Perkasa's website, adding that he "took no action to remove the article from the website".

The contempt proceeding was initiated by Anwar. Zainuddin's article carried personal attacks on trial judge Singham, who had presided over Anwar's defamation suit against Utusan Melayu and its editor-in-chief, Abdul Aziz Ishak.  

The article was published in Perkasa's website on January 7, when the decision by Singham on the defamation suit was pending.  On January 21, Singham ruled in favour of Anwar in the defamation suit, which was over the publication of two articles on his comments to BBC in an interview on homosexuality laws.  

Following the decision, Anwar moved to cite Ibrahim and Zainuddin for contempt for the attacks against Singham.  Ibrahim had tried to set aside the application for committal proceedings against him, arguing that he and Perkasa were not responsible for the defamatory article posted in a website, but his application was rejected.  Today, judge O'Hara found Ibrahim and Zainuddin guilty of contempt over the article.  If he is unable to pay the RM20,000 fine, Ibrahim would have to serve a further two weeks in jail. – November 19, 2013.

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