KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 4 — Muslim intellectual Kassim Ahmad has warned Shariah prosecutors to drop charges against him next Monday, or face court proceedings for being in contempt of the Court of Appeal and Federal Court’s rulings in his favour.
In a letter yesterday, Kassim’s lawyers told Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) director Paimuzi Yahya and Jawi’s Federal Territories chief Syarie prosecutor Mohammad Adib Husain that they should halt his prosecution and release three individuals from their role as his bailors when the case comes up in the Putrajaya Shariah court again next Monday.
“Therefore, we hereby give notice that on the mention date before the Syariah Court on August 7, 2017, you must: a) withdraw the prosecution against the Respondent and release the Respondent; b) release the bailors, that is Norhayati Kaprawi, Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir and Fansyurna Syalha Othman; and c) return the Respondent’s bail money; in order to respect the Court of Appeal’s Order and the Federal Court’s Order,” lawyers Rosli Dahlan and Muhammad Faizal Faiz Mohd Hasani said in the letter sighted by Malay Mail Online.
The lawyers said that they would apply to ask the Shariah judge to release Kassim and the trio if Jawi fails to comply, citing the judge’s powers during trials under Section 96(g) of the Syariah Criminal Procedure (Federal Territories) Act.
“We have also received instructions from our client that if you refuse, fail and/or neglect to do what is stated [above], we will commence the committal process on you.
“We greatly hope that you will not continue to challenge the authority of the Court of Appeal and Federal Court by intentionally disobeying those court orders to the extent that it leads to intentional contempt,” the lawyers added.
In the letter, the lawyers cited various documents to back up their request, including the Court of Appeal’s December 21, 2015 order which quashed the Federal Territories chief Syarie prosecutor’s decision to charge Kassim in 2014 with two Shariah offences and to continue prosecuting him; with the same court order also directing Jawi to cancel the arrest and bail on him.
The lawyers also cited their two letters to Jawi dated December 29, 2015 and January 15, 2016 asking for the Shariah prosecution to be dropped to respect the Court of Appeal’s decision; as well as the Federal Court’s decision this March 7 to affirm the Court of Appeal’s ruling that the Shariah prosecution was invalid.
The lawyers also noted that there was no reply to their March 10 letter to Jawi and the minister in charge of Islamic affairs Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, in which the duo were asked to drop the Shariah charges.
Kassim — who will be turning 84 this September — has won in the civil courts in his legal challenge against Jamil Khir, Jawi’s then chief Sharie prosecutor Ibrahim Deris, Jawi and the government of Malaysia over his arrest and prosecution in the Shariah courts.
On December 21, 2015, a Court of Appeal panel unanimously found Jawi’s actions on Kassim — including a cross-border arrest using a defective warrant, a detention exceeding 24 hours without access to lawyers and his prosecution ― to be illegal.
The Court of Appeal order also carried an endorsement of a penal notice, which warned that failure to comply with its order to halt the Shariah prosecution could result in a “process of execution” — or contempt of court proceedings — against Jamil Khir as the minister and Mohammad Adib as the Federal Territories chief Sharie prosecutor to compel them to obey.
Despite his victories in the civil court, Kassim is still facing two separate charges of insulting Islam and defying religious authorities under Section 7(b) and Section 9 of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997. Both offences are punishable with a maximum RM3,000 fine or maximum two-year jail, or both.
Whether the charges will be dropped remains to be seen. The Putrajaya Syariah Court had last February said it would defer its ruling on whether to drop his charges until the Federal Court’s decision.
Last February, Kassim had spoken of the difficulties he faced as an 82-year-old then in making the regular trips from Kedah to the courts here, while his lawyer Rosli Dahlan had also then said the bail imposed meant that both Kassim and his bailors have had to come for every single Shariah court proceeding.