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Raja Petra charged, chooses jail over bail

KUALA LUMPUR, 6 Mei (Malaysiakini)  - Malaysia Today news portal webmaster Raja Petra Kamaruddin was today charged with sedition at the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court over an article which he wrote in his website.

The article allegedly implied that Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his wife were involved in the killing of a young Mongolian woman.

Raja Petra claimed trial to the charge. He was charged under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act for publishing seditious article on April 25 on Malaysia Today.

Hearing has been fixed from Oct 6 to 10 and Raja Petra was granted a bail of RM5,000, which he refused to post, deciding instead to remain in custody until the hearing date five months from today. 

He has been taken to the Sungai Buloh prison to be remanded. 

If found guilty, Raja Petra could be jailed for a maximum of three years and/or face a fine of up to RM5,000.

The charge sheet also highlighted nine paragraphs of the article which was titled 'Let's send the Altantuya murderers to hell' as seditious

Deputy public prosecutor Nordin Hassan is prosecuting while Raja Petra was represented by a team of six lawyers led by Karpal Singh.

Earlier this morning Raja Petra was asked to present himself at the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court to face the sedition charge.

He had been waiting to be charged at the Kuala Lumpur Magistrate's Court when he received a telephone call from the police at about 10.20am asking him to go to the PJ court instead.

Wife stunned

Raja Petra's wife Marina Lee Abdullah was also present in the court today and expressed her shock over her husband's decision not to post bail.

"This is a statement he wants to make. He feels that he has done nothing wrong and we don't have the funds.

"If we do a campaign of RM1 a person and when we raise sufficient funds, we'll take him out as soon as possible," she said, referring to a fund-raising campaign initiated in Malaysia Today to raise enough money to post bail for Raja Petra.

"At the moment, I'm quite stunned by what he has done (not wanting to be bailed), so let me see him tomorrow. And we will take it from there."

When asked if their family was prepared for the charge preferred against Raja Petra, Marina said that she would be discussing the matter with her children later today.

"I don't think that anyone is prepared for this. I just called my kids to tell them about this. We'll go back and have a family gathering to discuss this."

She also said that she was disappointed with the manner Raja Petra was treated by the police in the run-up to being charged today.

"I'm not angry but I'm very disappointed with the way things are done in a hurry. They send us to this court (Jalan Duta) and then push us to the other court (Petaling Jaya).

"They send us to this police station and say come tomorrow and then they come to the house to take the computer. And this has happened even today when they want to charge him.

"We went there at 8.30am and waited till 11am and they say it's not there and tell us to come to PJ Sessions (Court). It's a circus. It doesn't look as though they are serious. It's trumped up charges. As though as everything is done in a hurry," she said.

Meanwhile another person was also charged for sedition at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court.

Syed Akbar Ali, a businessman, was charged for posting a comment in Raja Petra's Malaysia Today.

Summoned yesterday

Late yesterday, Raja Petra was ordered to surrender at the Jalan Duta court complex at 9.30am to face a sedition charge.

Talking to reporters at the Jalan Duta court complex this morning, Raja Petra said that he was a victim of political persecution.

"I knew this was coming," he said.

"This is merely an excuse to arrest me, detain me or charge me. But this excuse is a stupid excuse.

"Once they charge me and the trial has been set, we shall point out not only do they have no case but it is absolutely political persecution," he added.

He said that he was aware of a call made by an Umno leader from Petaling Jaya (Utara) about three weeks ago that "they should find ways to arrest me".

News about Raja Petra's case spread like a wild fire last night and this morning a large crowd of about 100 people had gathered at the court complex to show support for him.

Also present were DAP leaders Lim Kit Siang and Ronnie Liu as well as Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar.

Nurul Izzah said that it was a duty of everyone to come and show their support to Raja Petra.

"Especially since Malaysia Today was the primary source of a lot of unearthing of scandals especially corrupt practices of the leadership and the government.

"And it (Malaysia Today) has helped opened the eyes of the nation to what is going on and what is wrong with the country. It played a huge role in the last elections."

Najib's statement

Last Friday, Raja Petra was called in by the police to have his statement recorded over an Internet posting two weeks ago pertaining to the murder case of Altantuya Shaariibuu, a Mongolian national.

Najib subsequently issued a denial through his press secretary Tengku Sariffuddin Tengku Ahmad, whereas Rosmah has also denied the allegations against her.

The Altantunya murder trial is currently on-going at the Shah Alam.

Meanwhile, the donation campaign started to raise fund for Raja Petra's bail money was stopped at about 5.30pm after more than RM35,000 was raised through donations.

A message posted by his family in the Malaysia Today site noted that the campaign was called off since only RM5,000 was needed to bail out Raja Petra.

"The remaining balance will be given to charitable home of Raja Petra's choice. We would like to thank you all for your tremendous supports," said the note.

 

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