Trial starts for Bersih ‘balloon girl’ after prosecutor refuses to drop charge

Bilqis was charged with 'insulting behaviour' against the prime minister and his wife by dropping seven balloons printed with the words “Free media”, “Democracy” and “Justice” from the top floor of a popular mall in the capital city last August. ― Picture  by Yusof Mat Isa
Bilqis was charged with 'insulting behaviour' against the prime minister and his wife by dropping seven balloons printed with the words “Free media”, “Democracy” and “Justice” from the top floor of a popular mall in the capital city last August. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 28 — Dancer Bilqis Hijjas, accused of “insulting” Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor by dropping balloons on them last year, must stand trial now after the public prosecutor rejected her application to drop the charge today.

Her lawyer Michelle Yesudas told reporters the defence team received verbal confirmation of the rejection to drop the charge under Section 14 of the Minor Offences Act 1955 from the Attorney-General’s Chambers from deputy public prosecutor Joy Jothi Nadrasan.

“It was rejected. No reason given, so trial will proceed,” Michelle told reporters when met outside the Magistrate’s Court here.

The daughter of prominent architect Hijjas Kasturi was charged with “insulting behaviour” against the prime minister and his wife by dropping seven balloons printed with the words “Free media”, “Democracy” and “Justice” from the top floor of a popular mall in the capital city last August, in support of electoral reform advocacy group Bersih 2.0.

Bilqis faces a maximum RM100 fine if found guilty.

Magistrate Muhammad Faizal Ismail later postponed the case to February 24 after the prosecutor said that the first witness, auxiliary police officer Irmalinda Zaimardy who had lodged the police report against the dancer, was unable to attend the trial as the latter was getting married tomorrow.

“Bringing in witnesses is the discretion of the prosecution, any witness can be called. I'm not saying they can't come at all, just they are not able to come today.

“There are other witnesses who are already prepared to testify,” Joy Jothi said.

The defence said, however, said that the prosecution’s lack of preparation was “unacceptable” as this left her client with a “charge hanging over her head” until trial is set to begin next month.

“They had ample time to prepare for the trial as the dates were set on November. If it was an emergency I would have no qualms, but clearly that it was a wedding shows their priorities… but I respect the judge’s decision and we’re very much prepared for trial,” Bilqis’ lawyer said.

The dancer also said that it was “sad” that she was denied her day in court today as she was eager to have her case resolved soon.

“I’m very disappointed as we were prepared to get our day in court today. It’s just continuous disappointment and it shows the very sad state of indictment in our country,” she said outside the courtroom.

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