Mar 12, 2007

Pepper spray charge stays, says court

(NST) KOTA BARU: Lawyers for the businessman accused of attacking Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad with pepper spray failed to get the case dismissed.

The lawyers for Datuk Nik Sapeia Nik Yusof filed a preliminary objection on the grounds that the prosecution did not follow proper procedures.

But magistrate Mohd Azman Mustapha rejected it.

At the magistrate’s court, counsel Zainal Abidin Mustaffa had argued that the prosecution erred when it submitted a summons for Nik Sapeia to appear before court to face a charge under Section 324 of the Penal Code.

The charge stated that Nik Sapeia had allegedly caused hurt to four people, including the former prime minister, with a dangerous substance through the use of a spraying instrument.

The charge carries a maximum three-year jail term, a fine or whipping.

"This charge requires an arrest, but instead of issuing an arrest warrant, my client was given a summons.

"If the court continues to hear this case, we would be a laughing stock because this charge requires an arrest and not a summons.

"So I appeal to the magistrate to dismiss this case as it is prejudicial to my client and release him," Zainal Abidin told the court.

In her reply, deputy public prosecutor Raja Rozela Raja Toran argued that the charge against the accused was still valid since legal principles stated that the court had jurisdiction to try him irrespective of the manner in which he came before the court.

Raja Rozela said this was made clear in the case of Public Prosecutor v Liew Choo Kwong and others (1962) and Saminathan v Public Prosecutor 1937.

In dismissing the objection, Mohd Azman said while he agreed with the defence that an arrest warrant was required and not a summons, and that the police had not followed proper procedures, the court was of the opinion that this did not prejudice the accused.

Zainal Abidin said he would seek a review of the magistrate’s decision from the Kota Baru High Court.

Azman agreed to postpone the hearing until today so that Zainal Abidin can seek a revision.

In the incident on July 28 last year, Dr Mahathir was hit with a gust of pepper spray as he was giving a speech from the sunroof of a vehicle at the Sultan Ismail Petra Airport.

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