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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Raja Petra does not turn up in court, again

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamarauddin failed again to appear for his sedition trial at the Sessions Court here on Friday.

DPP Shah Rizal Abdul Manan told judge Aslam Zainuddin that the arrest warrant issued on April 23, when he first did not turn up in court, had yet to be executed on him.

He also said a notice for the editor’s wife Marina Lee Abdullah to summon her to explain Raja Petra’s absence at the sedition trial was also not executed.

Raja Petra’s lead counsel J. Chandra applied to the court to adjourn sine die (indefinitely) the case until the police succeeded in arresting his client.

However, the judge set July 17 for mention saying it would be decided by the trial judge Rozina Ayob.

On April 23, the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court had issued a warrant of arrest against Raja Petra Kamarudin after he failed to turn up for his sedition trial.

Judge Rozina Ayob issued the order after lead prosecutor DPP Shahidani Abd Aziz applied for the arrest warrant against the news portal editor for his absence.

DPP Shahidani had said the prosecution had no choice but to get the order to proceed with the trial.

Rozina also issued a show cause notice for Marina Lee, as his bailor for failing to inform the court about Raja Petra’s non-attendance.

Raja Petra's lawyer J. Chandra informed judge Rozina Ayob that his client did not turn up in court on the grounds he was on a self-imposed exile from the state for “reasons that are well known.”

Chandra then went out to explain that for over a month now, Raja Petra, 58, has posted articles or comments on issues in relation to the Selangor royal house that had angered some members of his own family who demanded an apology.

Raja Petra explained why he did not turn up at the court in Malaysia Today, “my family then gave me an ultimatum. I was to either make that public apology or else my family would insert an advertisement in the mainstream newspapers practically distancing itself from me, which could be interpreted as disowning me ....

“I went into exile outside Selangor ... . It has to be noted that this has always been the punishment for any member of the Selangor Royal Family who is considered durhaka (traitorous) since the beginning of the Selangor Sultanate more than 250 years ago.”

He also wrote that another reason why he did not attend court was the he did not expect to get a fair trial.

In court on April 23, his lawyer Chandra added, “You have to bear in mind that he is a member of royalty and this self-imposed exile is a punishment he has handed out to himself.”

Rozina said Raja Petra had never produced a written order over the matter.

To this, Chandra said his client would appear in court “when the times permitted and the matter resolved”.

DPP Shahidani Aziz then asked for a warrant of arrest to be issued against Raja Petra and a showcause notice for his wife and bailor Marina.

The judge granted both and set May 22 for mention.

Speaking to reporters later on April 23, his lawyer Gobind Singh Deo had said the defence had been unable to contact Raja Petra for some time and his last conversation with him was during a habeas corpus appeal against the editor at the Federal Court.

Raja Petra, a former Internal Security Act detainee, had on May 6 2008 claimed trial to publishing a seditious article on his Malaysia Today news portal on April 25 of that same year.

He is accused of publishing the article Let’s send the Altantuya murderers to hell on the website The charge under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act 1948 carries a maximum fine of RM5,000 or three years' jail or both upon conviction.

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