KUALA LUMPUR, March 11 — A Sarawak PKR state assemblyman and a team of lawyers are seeking a review of the case proceedings involving a man who was jailed 10 years and fined RM50,000 for insulting Islam on Facebook.
According to the Star Online, Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How and his legal team say that this is being done to ensure that the proceedings and legality of the Kuching Sessions Court’s decision on the case were properly carried out.
Alister Cogia, 22, pleaded guilty to uploading offensive materials on Islam and Prophet Muhammad on social media before Sessions Court judge Jason Juga on Friday.
The legal team that includes lawyers Francis Teron, Desmond Kho and Jeffery Mok, would present an account of the mental state of Alister, the man accused of the offences, See clarified.
“It is our principle not to support or tolerate any insult or abuse towards any religion in our country. In this case, the family sought our help, saying that Alister is suffering from behavioural difficulties and requires psychiatric advice and therapy,” See was quoted to say yesterday.
See added that Alister was also not told that he would appear in court last Friday which caused him to be unrepresented.
“There is doubt whether Alister understood the gravity of the charges and the significance of his guilty plea,” See was quoted to have said.
Alister’s mother, Alen Rigod, mentioned that her son was suffering from mental illness since young and had refused to continue schooling when he was in Form One.
“He likes to lock himself up in his room and at times would shout when he was alone,” she was quoted to have said.
She also told the legal team that the family was not allowed to meet Alister while he was detained.
Besides that, Alen claimed that Alister was first detained two weeks ago by the police for allegedly posting a similar comment on his Facebook account, but in that incident, he was released without being charged.
She added, “The police came back for him the second time on March 3. We were unsure what he did in his room or online. But we found out later that he has multiple Facebook accounts where he had posted some weird comments.”
Last month, Alen said Alister was sent to the Sentosa Hospital for a psychiatric examination.
“We were told to bring him to Kuching general hospital for examination first and obtain a referral for further examination at Sentosa Hospital. However, we could not do so as he became agitated and refused to go to Bau Hospital for that,” she reportedly said.
See explained that the legal team wants the case to be recalled, and that the court should seek the opinion of a psychiatrist to make sure that there was no failure of justice in the conviction and sentence of Alister.
“At this moment, we can only say that he has behavioural difficulties which need psychiatric examination and advice,” See was quoted as saying.
* A previous version of this story contained an error which has since been corrected.