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Thursday, February 12, 2009

RPK wants judge to recuse himself

By Debra Chong  | malaysianinsider
PUTRAJAYA, Feb 11 – Anti-government blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin remains a free man for at least one more week.
The Federal Court was to hear today the appeal from the Home Minister to overturn the Shah Alam High Court decision last November to free Raja Petra from a two-year detention at the Kamunting Detention Centre in Perak under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
The hearing has been postponed to Feb 17 after Raja Petra sought to remove Justice Datuk S. Augustine Paul from being one of the three-member panellists overseeing this case.
He claimed that past encounters with the senior judge may result in a biased decision against him.
The prominent editor of Malaysia Today had in the past written commentaries critical of Justice Augustine while working on the Free Anwar Campaign.
Justice Augustine was the High Court judge who presided over the corruption trial of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim following his sacking as the Deputy Prime Minister.
Raja Petra’s lawyer, Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, argued that Justice Augustine had also ruled that the government critic was a “threat to national security” in 2001 when he dismissed a previous habeas corpus application filed after he was arrested under the ISA.
Malik noted that the ruling still stands. An appeal against the dismissal failed to materialise because Raja Petra had been released from ISA detention by the time the court had set the date for the hearing.
The Federal Court accepted the oral arguments despite the objection by the Deputy Public Prosecutor Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah.
Abdul Majid argued that Justice Augustine need not excuse himself from the hearing because there was no strong proof of bias.
Justice Datuk Nik Hashim Nik Abdul Rahman, who led the three-member panel today, told Raja Petra to submit the documents supporting his claims against Justice Augustine by tomorrow 11 am.
Raja Petra was arrested on September 12 last year in an ISA sweep ordered by the Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, which included outspoken DAP lawmaker Teresa Kok and Sin Chew Daily journalist Tan Hoon Cheng for allegedly posing a threat to national security.
Tan was freed within 24 hours after the police clarified she had been put behind bars “for her own safety” following death threats.
Kok was released after a week and Raja Petra close to two months after his arrest.
Raja Petra who attended the Federal Court hearing today accompanied by his retinue of anti-ISA supporters will return to the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court tomorrow where he is undergoing trial for sedition.

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