Finally free from prosecution.
A Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur has acquitted graphic designer Fahmi Reza over a charge under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 involving a clown sketch of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
Sessions Court judge Zamri Bakar made the decision after DPP Noor Jazilah Mohd Yushaa informed the court that the Attorney General’s Chambers had agreed to withdraw the charge against Fahmi.
“The AGC has received a letter from Fahmi, therefore the prosecution does not wish to proceed with the case.
“We ask for the accused to be given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal,” she said on Thursday (Oct 11).
Fahmi’s lawyer Syahredzan Johan, however, asked the court to grant a discharge and acquittal on grounds that the prosecution did not want to proceed with the case.
The court agreed and granted a discharge and acquittal.
Previously, Fahmi sent two letters of representation dated June 12 and July 17 to the AGC, seeking for a withdrawal of his case.
The letters were sent after the case had been called for trial and three prosecution witnesses testified.
On June 6, 2016, Fahmi pleaded not guilty at a Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur for uploading an edited image of the then prime minister on Facebook with the intention to offend on his Instagram account.
He was charged under Section 233(1)(a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 which provides for a maximum two years in jail or a maximum fine of RM50,000 or both, if convicted.
Fahmi was jailed one month and fined RM30,000 by the Ipoh Sessions Court on a similar charge for his Najib-clown drawing early this year. He paid the RM30,000 after launching a crowdfunding bid to raise the money.
“After more than two years of fighting this baseless prosecution and trial, finally I have been freed from charges under #AktaSakitHati in relation to the Najib clown face picture. The KL #clowntrial is finally over!” Fahmi posted on Facebook.
“This is a victory for freedom of expression and freedom of the people to criticise the powers-that-be through the weapons of art and satire.”
Fahmi’s clown caricature of Najib was one of the main symbols of dissent against Barisan Nasional that later lost the 2018 election to Pakatan Harapan (PH).
The new PH government recently said it would amend Section 233 of the CMA – the provision that had been used against Fahmi and other government critics – even though PH’s election manifesto had promised to repeal such repressive laws.