Activist avoids jail, fined RM10,000 for showing unapproved movie

Activist Lena Hendry (in red) is seen at the Magistrate’s Court in Kuala Lumpur March 22, 2017. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Activist Lena Hendry (in red) is seen at the Magistrate’s Court in Kuala Lumpur March 22, 2017. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

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KUALA LUMPUR, March 22 ― Activist Lena Hendry was today penalised RM10,000 for screening a documentary on the Sri Lankan civil war that was not approved by the Film Censorship Board.

The was handed down in the Magistrate's Court here by Mohd Rehan Mohd Aris, who last month found the Pusat Komas programme manager guilty of the charge under the Film Censorship Act 2002.

“After reading the submissions, the court has decided to impose a RM10,000 fine on the accused,” the magistrate said in open court.

Lena had been liable for up to three years’ jail or a fine not exceeding RM30,000, under Section 6(1)(b) of the Film Censorship Act, 2002.

Her lawyer, New Sin Yew, said she will pay the fine today, before the 4pm deadline.

After paying the fine, Hendry maintained she doesn’t see anything wrong with screening the documentary titled No Fire Zone, adding that the sentence she received was harsh for the offence.

“It’s definitely quite steep for screening a human rights documentary. The film is not illegal, porn or any violence.

“It’s on human rights and stopping the film from being screened, despite it being screened all over the world, is an infringement of human rights,” she told reporters outside the courthouse.

The documentary is about the war crimes committed in 2009 during Sri Lanka’s civil war, including extrajudicial executions of fighters and supporters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the shelling by the Sri Lankan army that indiscriminately led to the deaths of thousands of civilians.

Hendry said the court had set a precedence by charging her a hefty fine under the Film Censorship Act.

Hendry was charged in September 2013 with screening the documentary without the Censorship Board’s approval at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Chamber of Commerce Hall on July 3, 2013 at 9pm.

She was initially acquitted but the High Court overturned the acquittal last September and ordered her to enter her defence.

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