KUALA LUMPUR, July 14 — Shahrul Anuar Abdul Aziz, whose arrest sparked mob violence at Low Yat Plaza here over the weekend, was charged today with stealing a smartphone costing RM800.
The 22-year-old pleaded not guilty at the Magistrate’s Court to the offence punishable under Section 380 of the Penal Code.
If convicted, he faces a maximum 10-year jail term and a fine, with subsequent offences punishable by imprisonment and fine or whipping.
The offence was said to have taken place at 4.47pm on July 11 at Techasia Boutique in Low Yat Plaza.
The packed courtroom was momentarily stunned when Shahrul initially pleaded guilty, with his lawyer Shaharudin Ali also expressing surprise and telling the judge that it was contrary to his instructions.
But Shahrul later confirmed that he was pleading not guilty after the charge was explained again to him.
Earlier, the youth dressed in a black t-shirt said that he did not understand the charge and even uttered “Tiada barang kes” (No case evidence).
The prosecution sought a bail of RM5,000, but the defence lawyer asked for the amount to be lowered, saying his client was unemployed and is taking care of his parents — who were both inside the courtroom.
Magistrate Nur’ Aminahtul Mardiah Md Nor set bail at RM3,000 and told Shahrul Anuar to return to court on August 14.
When met outside the courtroom, Shaharudin said the defence team have yet to get further instructions from the accused.
“I think we have not taken instructions from him.
“We need to hear the full story from him.
“All this while, we have been fed with information from the police.
“We have never heard the other side of the story,” the lawyer said.
He also said the defence team is looking at securing a charge under Section 379 for the client that carries a lesser maximum jail term of seven years.
“We are exploring the possibility of seeking the charge to be reduced from (Section) 380 to 379, that doesn’t mean we are prepared to plead guilty. It means that we are prepared to look into that possibility.
“But you know the object is very little, the loss also, but the impact, it is the social impact of the case, so much about the commotion,” the lawyer said, when explaining why the defence wants to secure a less serious charge.
Shahrul is the youngest of three siblings.
National news agency Bernama reported that a 22-year-old man was arrested by police on Saturday on suspicion of theft at Low Yat Plaza.
The man’s friends reportedly reacted by returning to the same handphone store the same night and thrashing the place, causing an estimated RM70,000 in damages.
The commotion turned into a demonstration on Sunday night after several messages spread on social media resulted in scores of people gathering outside the mall reportedly to demand retribution.
Several scuffles broke out after midnight outside the mall, leaving several people injured — with three of them being journalists.
To date, 19 people have been arrested for participating in the melee.