Deported Turk’s lawyers cry foul over amended charge

Ismet Ozcelik is seen outside the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) building in Kuala Lumpur January 31, 2017. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Ismet Ozcelik is seen outside the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) building in Kuala Lumpur January 31, 2017. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 — Lawyers for Turkish academic Ismet Ozcelik challenged today an amended charge against their client who is accused of obstructing civil servants from discharging their duty.

Though Ozcelik was deported home last week, his case was still called up at the Magistrate’s Court for a hearing today with the original charge in which he was accused of obstructing five civil servants from carrying out their duty last December 13 amended.

“This is a totally different charge. In other words, the original charge upon which Ismet was detained is false,” his defence lawyer Rosli Dahlan told Malay Mail Online in a text message.

“Ismet was remanded 53 days for the original charge. They then illegally deported him. Now they amend that charge when we pointed out it’s defective,” he added.

He argued that Ozcelik has since been removed from the Malaysian court’s jurisdiction since he has been deported.

He also provided copies of both the original and amended charges under Section 353 of the Penal Code, read together with Section 34 of the same law.

In the amended charge, Ozcelik is accused of using criminal force on three civil servants, named as Inspector Mohd Afandi Ahmad, Corporal Shah Rizal Asahan and Deputy Assistant Director Mohd Hafizzudin Mohamad, in the midst of discharging their duty “by pulling on the clothes, pushing and biting” them at about 3.30pm at Block B of the Tamarind Condo in Sentul.

The original charge only named one civil servant, an Immigration officer named Mohd Hafizzudin Mohamad, while the other four were identified as policemen based on their officer identification numbers: G21027, D/Sjn 100975, Kpl 150847, L/Lpl 175730.

Section 353 of the Penal Code describes the offence of using criminal force to deter a public servant from discharging his duty, while Section 34 of the same Act explains the liability of the criminal act by several persons on an individual.

Those found guilty can be punished with jail up to two years, a fine, or both.

The lawyer also said he will file formal applications to strike out the charge and ask for his client’s acquittal and return of the bail money.

Ozcelik, a director of Turkey's Universiti Mevlana, was first arrested on on December 13 last year after a group of plainclothes officers from the Immigration Department visited the apartment.

He was released from detention on January 31 upon being conferred refugee status after Immigration cancelled his social visit pass a day after his arrest.

The 57-year-old academic was arrested a second time on May 5 in Pahang, in connection to what police described as activities threatening Malaysia’s security and deported to Ankara on May 11.

Police were reported to be investigating Ozcelik and two other Turks Turgay Karaman and Ihsan Aslan under Section 130 of the Penal Code, which deals with aiding the escape of, rescuing, or harbouring any “prisoner of State or prisoner of war.”

Malaysian law states that those found guilty in court shall be punished with lifetime imprisonment or for a term of up to 20 years, and a fine.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said trio were wanted men by the Turkish government for suspected involvement with the Fetullah Terrorist Organisation, which is gazetted as a terror group by by the Turkish government and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

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