Judgment on private prosecution against Muslim convert preachers reserved

The Court of Appeal quorum of judges led by Datuk Ahmad Zaidi Ibrahim reserved its judgement after hearing a case brought about against two Muslim convert preachers.

The bench of judges includes Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali and Mohamed Zaini Mazlan, set June 7 for case management and to fix a date to deliver their verdict.

Global Human Rights Federation (GHRF) head S Shashi Kumar had appealed against the lower court’s refusal to proceed with the private prosecution bid for seizable offences against Muhammad Zamri Vinoth and Firdaus Wong Wai Hung.

Zamri and Wong allegedly insulted non-Islamic religions especially Hindus several times on social media platforms such as Facebook, You Tube and TikTok.

The Court of Appeal is set to rule on whether Shashi can initiate private prosecution against Multiracial Reverted Muslims (MRM) founder and president Firdaus Wong and Perlis-based preacher Zamri, both of whom are allegedly linked to controversial preacher and Indian national Zakir Naik.

Earlier on Shashi’s lawyer, S Ravichandran pointed out at that Shashi lodged seven reports on seizeable and non-seizeable offences.

When submitted to Shah Alam magistrate, they did not proceed to hear the case against Firdaus Wong. This was classified as no further action (NFA) by the police.

“Despite the NFA classification there is no law to prevent the magistrate from enquiring into the matter.

“The magistrate should have given Shashi the legal avenues to examine his grievances,” said Ravichandran.

Get a different magistrate to hear to avoid prejudice

He asked the court to order a new magistrate to examine the appellant on whether the appellant can proceed with private prosecution for non-sizeable offences.

The lawyer also requested the appellate to allow a different magistrate to hear the case. This is meant to avoid speculation of prejudice in the future if Shashi is allowed to proceed.

Shashi lodged several police reports against Firdaus and Zamri since January 2018, and followed by private prosecution bid at the Shah Alam Magistrate’s Court on Jan 8, 2021 after analysing their content on social media platforms.

The activist’s bid was dismissed on Sept 3, 2021, by magistrate Mohamad Redza Azhar Rezali because the police investigation against Firdaus been classified as NFA and the probe against Zamri was still ongoing.

Last year, Shah Alam High Court upheld the dismissal of the private prosecution.

The police were investigating the duo under Section 298A of the Penal Code for the offence of causing enmity between different groups on grounds of religion or race.

The accused can be imprisoned for at least two years, with a maximum custodial term of five years.

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