PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal today acquitted and discharged student activist Muhammad Safwan Anang from a sedition charge brought against him by the government, over a speech he made three years ago.
A three-men panel today said that they also found no seditious elements based on the grounds of judgement from the Session Court which had handed Safwan a 10-month jail term and fine of RM5,000.
The panel comprised of judges Datuk Wira Mohtarudin Baki, Datuk Seri Zakaria Sam and Datuk Dr Prasad Sandosham Abraham also unanimously agreed that the prosecution had also failed to prove a prima facie case against Safwan.
“In our particular case, we find no such assertion in the grounds of judgement of the learned Sessions Court judge. Having perused through the statements ourselves, we are satisfied that the statement does not have a seditious tendency.
“It would follow therefore that the prosecution has failed to prove a prima facie case against the appellant in the Sessions Court and therefore the appellant should have been acquitted,” Justice Prasad said while reading the judgement.
The 26-year-old former Universiti Malaya student was found guilty under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act 1948 on September 5, 2014 by a Sessions Court over a speech he made at the Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall on May 13 the previous year.
The former chairman of student group Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia was charged on May 29, 2013 with uttering seditious statements to incite the public to remove the government by extra-legal means.
In their decision today, the judges said that they did not find any elements of threat to the government in Safwan’s remarks.
“The court must scrutinise and independently evaluate that the statement, to see whether the language used comes within the bounds of sedition rather than free speech.
“Failure to do so by the court in our view, advances to a serious misdirection in law which renders the conviction unsafe,” Prasad further read.
Safwan previously appealed his conviction to the High Court, which lowered his sentence from 10 months’ imprisonment to a RM5,000 fine.
The prosecution then appealed against the High Court decision.
Safwan was represented by lawyers Ariff Azami Hussein and Azizzul Shariman Mat Yusoff from ProGuam, a human rights lawyer group, while deputy public prosecutor K. Mangai represented the government.
By The Malay Mail Online