Sarawak Report editor contends that she would not get a fair trial in Terengganu.
The prosecution has dismissed an allegation by Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle Brown that her charge of criminal defamation against Terengganu’s Sultanah Nur Zahirah was due to pressure from the palace.
Deputy public prosecutor Yusaini Amer Abdul Karim said the criminal proceeding was instituted based on evidence relevant to the charge.
“As such, those allegations are unfounded and without any basis,” he said in asking the Kuala Lumpur High Court to dismiss her motion to transfer and strike out the charge.
Rewcastle Brown, a British citizen, was charged in absentia at the Kuala Terengganu magistrates’ court in September.
Yusaini said the prosecution also vehemently denies the allegation that the charge was a “back-door way to get even” with Rewcastle Brown.
“There was no pressure being placed nor was the criminal proceeding instituted on the instruction by the palace.
“The criminal proceeding that was instituted was based on the evidence that is relevant to the charge which is read against the accused,” he said in the affidavit filed last week sighted by FMT.
Yusaini said Rewcastle Brow’s contention that she would not get a fair trial in Terengganu was baseless and not substantiated by evidence.
In her application filed early this month, Rewcastle Brown said the charge must be quashed as it was done in bad faith, was malicious in nature, and an abuse of the court process and prosecutorial powers.
Her lawyer, Guok Ngek Seong, said case management had been fixed before a High Court deputy registrar on Jan 7.
Rewcastle Brown authored the book, The Sarawak Report – The Inside Story of the 1MDB Expose, released in Malaysia in September 2018.
After its release, Sultanah Nur Zahirah filed a defamation suit against her, publishers Gerakbudaya Enterprise and Chong Ton Sin and printer Vinlin Press Sdn Bhd.
She also filed an application for her suit to be decided by summary judgment under Order 14A.
On Dec 13, 2019, the High Court said that in the face of the suit, the defendants had defamed the sultanah and she need not come to court to give evidence.
However, on Aug 28 this year, the Court of Appeal allowed the defendants’ appeal and held that the “bane and antidote” (sting and the cure) was an ingredient defence in the defamation suit.
The sultanah is now expected to take the stand when the defamation trial begins next year.
Rewcastle Brown said in her affidavit the charge was framed against her by the prosecution following a police report lodged by an aide of the sultanah.
She said a fair and impartial trial could not be conducted in Kuala Terengganu as potential and unwarranted influence would be exerted by various quarters on the magistrate to ensure a conviction against her.
“The only way there will be no miscarriage of justice is to have the charge transferred and tried in Kuala Lumpur,” she said. – FMT