Jawi videographer clarifies warrants not needed for raid statement

Siti (right) was charged and pleaded not guilty for voluntarily obstructing a Jawi operations officer, Siti Nor Jihan Saleh, from discharging her public functions, during a raid at the Renaissance Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, on April 3, 2016. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Siti (right) was charged and pleaded not guilty for voluntarily obstructing a Jawi operations officer, Siti Nor Jihan Saleh, from discharging her public functions, during a raid at the Renaissance Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, on April 3, 2016. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, March 27 ― The Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) personnel who told the Magistrates court here that no warrants are needed when Jawi conducts raids clarified today that such decisions of authority were not his to make.

Jawi videographer Mohd Johan Mohd Ridzuan cleared the air when he was re-examined by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Hafizza Sauni during today’s trial of Siti Kasim, an activist and lawyer.

Siti was charged and pleaded not guilty for voluntarily obstructing a Jawi operations officer, Siti Nor Jihan Saleh @ Md Ghazali, from discharging her public functions, during a raid at the Renaissance Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, on April 3, 2016

“You had said no warrant was ever present, and never saw one during raids by Jawi, can you clarify if this is your responsibility,” asked Hafizza.

“No, it is not my responsibility,” answered Mohd Johan.

 “Whose responsibility is it?” Hafizza rebutted.

“In this case it was the responsibility of Tuan Akmal, the chief operations officer,” Mohd Johan responded.

The DPP then questioned his statement made yesterday in court, where Mohd Johan said Jawi were entitled to arrest anyone suspected of going against the Syariah law.

“You said Jawi can arrest anyone as they saw fit, please explain,” she said.

“To my understanding Jawi are allowed to arrest anyone if they are found committing an offence said to be involved in,” he replied.

“Then why was no one arrested from the incident in question,” Haffiza questioned.

“At that time a lot of participants had left the hall, so we (Jawi) decided to speak just to the organisers to not create more tension,” Mohd Johan explained.  

Mohd Johan also stood by his opinion that the event held was a beauty pageant, and not a dinner that included a pageant show as part of a performance.

“Why do you say this is a competition when the accused had said during the incident it was a show, and called it a Miss World pretend,” Haffiza asked.

“Like I had said, when we walked in, the emcee was announcing the winners, and that convinced me,” said Mohd Johan.

Later, Jawi investigating officer Siti Nor Jihan took the stand as the fifth witness, and told the court a public tip off concerning the implicated incident was received by the religious department about a month before on March 2, 2016.

Siti Nor Jihan, who at that time was an operations officer, said that she herself filled in the complaint form before forwarding the tip-off to her superiors.

She then told the court that Jawi suspected that offences under Section 9 Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act 1997 were committed at the event which was raided.

“We were briefed by Tuan Akmal the operations chief, who then appointed me as deputy chief of that raid.

“It was mentioned during the briefing that offences under that section were supposedly being committed, in the form of a pageant.

“This falls under the provisions of the section, which is contempt or defiance of religious authorities,” she said.

She later detailed the specific instructions given to the team of 16 operations officers, which was to arrest participants and anyone attending the event, and seize all items pertaining to it.

The case was presided by Magistrate Maizatul Munirah Abd Rahman while Zarina Begum stood in as Siti’s lead defence counsel.      

Siti Nor Jihan is expected to be cross examined by the defence counsel when proceedings continues this Thursday.

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