Blogger Amizudin Ahmat today failed in his attempt to set aside a three-month jail sentence for contempt.
The Court of Appeal, in a unanimous decision, upheld the jail sentence after dismissing his appeal.
Judge Datuk Zaharah Ibrahim, who led the three member-panel, said they were unable to find any error by the lower court in finding Amizudin liable for contempt.
“The order in compelling him to three months is not excessive,” she said, before dismissing the appeal with no order as to cost.
Amizudin, known as “sharpshooter” in the blogsphere, was found guilty by the Kuala Lumpur High Court in August last year of contempt of court over 11 contemptuous articles against the then Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim in his blog.
The court had prohibited him from publishing articles against Rais in his blog, an order which the court found he had breached.
On Nov 21, 2011, Rais was granted leave to commence committal proceedings against Amizudin for breaching the court’s order by continuing to publish defamatory articles in his blog.
Rais, 71, sued Amizudin, 44, and a Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Youth Committee member, on Jan 31, 2011, for defamation over an article posted on the latter’s blogsite, sharpshooter-blogger.blogspot.com, on Dec 28, 2010, implying that Rais had allegedly raped his maid.
He won his defamation suit at the High Court on July 19, 2011, and was awarded RM300,000 in damages and RM100,000 in costs.
The Court of Appeal later upheld the High Court’s decision saying that the award was not high in view of Dr Rais high social standing.
It, however, reduced the costs from RM100,000 to RM50,000.
Earlier during submissions counsel R. Sivarasa, who is representing Amizudin, said the main “complaint” here was his client had put a hyperlink in his blog, which was linked to his original defamatory posting.
Sivarasa argued that the hyperlink does not tantamount to a republication of the defamatory content.
“If a hyperlink implies republishing, then it will open the floodgates of many such cases which will threaten the internet world,” he said.
“The custodial sentence is also excessive as the appellant has learnt his lesson and this can be seen in his actions in removing the articles from his blog.”
Rais’ counsel Datuk Seri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, however, said Azimudin should be held responsible as it is his website.
“The court had ordered him to remove is, but in providing the link, it is a republication of it.”
He said the blogger had not just posted the link, but had also invited his readers to read the piece from the link.
The court, however, allowed Sivarasa’s application to grant Azimudin a stay on the jail term, on condition he filed the leave to appeal at the Federal Court within two weeks.
Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom, Muhammad Shafee said the decision today will raise the standard of the blogging world.
“No one should be allowed to carry false news to destroy someone else’s character,” he said.
“The three months jail will serve as a lesson and send a message, not only to bloggers but also reporters, to be careful of what they write.” – July 23, 2013.
Rita Jong, The Malaysian insider