18 December, 2008

Prosecution gets a tongue lashing for absent witness

Raja Petra Raja Kamaruddin's sedition trial in the Sessions Court here became rather heated on Wednesday when the prosecution's fifth witness again failed to be present in court, forcing it to postpone hearing to February 10 next year.

Raja Petra's counsel, Gobind Singh Deo, gave the prosecution a tongue-lashing when told that the witness, DSP Gan Tack Guan (the complainant) was attending a course in Taiwan and would only be available after Dec 21.

Gan failed to be present the first time on Nov 10 because he was ill.

Gobind took to task Deputy Public Prosecutor Roslan Mat Noor over the matter claiming the prosecution was deliberately delaying the trial.

Gan was due to be cross-examined by the defence on both occasions (Nov 10 and on Thursday).

Judge Rozina Ayob then interceded and called for a short recess to the proceedings to enable Roslan to get all material information on why Gan could not be present on Thursday.

Roslan later said Gan's office would fax the pertinent details to the court and asked for a two-week adjournment.

Raja Petra, 58, the editor of the Malaysia-Today news portal, is alleged to have published a seditious article at his house in Bukit Rahman Putra, Sungai Buloh.

Titled "Let's Send the Altantuya Murderers to Hell", it appeared on the www.malaysia-today.net website on April 25.

He is charged under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act 1948 which carries a maximum fine of RM5,000 or three years jail or both, if convicted.

Earlier, the court had allowed the prosecution to amend the charge to include the title of the article in it and Raja Petra, when asked to enter a plea, pleaded innocent and castigated the prosecution for the alleged "games they were playing".


Raja Petra Raja Kamarudin claimed the prosecution was deliberately delaying his sedition trial when the complainant in his case was not available to be questioned by his defence team on Thursday.

“Why must the prosecution bring this case to court today just to amend the charge and postpone it?,” Raja Petra, 58, told the Sessions Court.

“How long are we going to wait for Supt Gan Tack Guan (chief investigator in the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder case and the complainant in Raja Petra’s sedition trial)?

“He was on medical leave earlier and is now gone for training,” he said.

When told by Sessions Court judge Rozina Ayob that he only had to record his plea over the amended charge, Raja Petra said: “I plead not guilty and I protest the delay.”

The amendment inserted the title of the seditious article and the addition of the URL of the article to the first page of the appendix attached to the sedition charge.

Lawyer Gobind Singh Deo asked the court to direct the prosecution to close the case if they were unable to call Supt Gan to be cross-examined.

“Supt Gan is aware that the hearing has been fixed for four days but he deliberately chose to go away. He is a police officer and should know the procedure,” he contended.

Rozina said Supt Gan was not subpoened and set three days from Feb 10 for continuation of the trial.

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