KUALA LUMPUR, June 3 — Former Malaysian ambassador to Indonesia Datuk Zainal Abidin Alias and his son were charged today with several offences including the alleged trafficking of dangerous drugs.

Their lawyer Rahmat Hazlan confirmed to Malay Mail that the duo were charged before magistrate Shahrul Ekhsan Hasim at the Magistrates’ Court in Bentong, Pahang.

Rahmat said that Zainal Abidin, who was released from a seven-day remand on May 28, had voluntarily appeared in court today and surrendered himself to be charged.

Rahmat confirmed that the 78-year-old Zainal Abidin and his 53-year-old son, Mohamed Rizal, were both charged under Section 39B(1)(a) of the Dangerous Drugs Act with trafficking and Section 9(1)(b) with keeping cannabis oil.

Mohamed Rizal was additionally charged under Section 15 of the same with using tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive component in marijuana or cannabis.

Rahmat confirmed that there was no plea recorded for Section 39B, while both of them pleaded not guilty to the charge under Section 9(1)(b) and the son had also pleaded not guilty to the charge under Section 15.

Section 39B is punishable by a mandatory death penalty upon conviction while Section 9(1)(b) allows for a maximum fine of RM20,000 or maximum five-year jail term or both.

Section 15(1)(a) includes the offence of consuming or self-administering any dangerous drug specified in Parts III and IV of the First Schedule of the same law, and is punishable with a maximum fine of RM5,000 or maximum two-year jail term.

As Section 39B is an unbailable offence, neither of the two was offered bail.

Rahmat said the Magistrates’ Court was also informed today that a representation letter had been sent to Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun yesterday regarding both the former diplomat and his son.

The representation letter, which asked that Zainal Abidin not be charged and for his son to receive a more lenient charge, was also extended to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, the law minister, the health minister and four MPs on the medical marijuana caucus in Parliament.

Both Zainal Abidin and his son were also represented by lawyers Tania Scivetti and Kamil Azman, while the prosecution was led by Pahang prosecution director Mohammad Khalid Ab Karim.

According to Rahmat, the next mention date for this case is on June 13.

In this case, the Section 39B offence was allegedly committed on May 21 at Lot 5718 (Bayu Bukit Hijau) at Kampung Sum Sum Hilir in Janda Baik in Bentong, Pahang, where traffickable quantities of marijuana were discovered, along with 60ml of cannabis oil used for the Section 9(1)(b) charge.

Mohamed Rizal is also accused of abusing a dangerous drug, following a urine test on May 23 at the Bentong police district headquarters in Pahang

Previously, the former diplomat was arrested on May 21 and remanded for seven days to assist in investigations, before being released on May 28 after the remand period ended.

The former diplomat’s son was arrested on May 23 and had been remanded for seven days until May 30, with the Magistrates’ Court in Bentong allowing the police to further remand the son for five days until June 4 or this Saturday.

On May 24, Pahang police chief Datuk Ramli Mohamed Yoosuf said the police had raided the former diplomat’s property and confiscated 102 cannabis trees at an estimated value of RM61,200 and other items.

Out of the 102 trees, police had found 60 of them planted and eight in a tent, while 34 of them are young trees.

Ramli had said the case is considered the largest seizure of cannabis trees in the country’s narcotics history, with previous seizures involving only cannabis trees grown in pots.