Raja Petra defamation trial: ‘Declaration made in good faith’

(The Star) – Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Raja Kamarudin, who is being sued by two army lieutenant-colonels for defamation, maintained that his statutory declaration was made in good faith and without malice.

In his statement of defence, which was made available to press on Tuesday, Raja Petra said that his declaration consisted of allegations of facts that were “true in substance.”

The former Internal Security Act detainee said that among the statement of facts were that Altantuya Shaariibuu was murdered on Oct 19, 2006 and three other persons were present at the crime scene.

The editor contended that the declaration, which he affirmed on June 18 last year, was made on the basis of information received from an informer.

He claimed that the purpose of his declaration was to urge all relevant parties to come forward and reveal the truth so that the police would be able to conduct a proper and through investigation into Altantuya’s murder.

Raja Petra said he would adduce detailed evidence and particulars of the facts during the trial proper.

He denied that certain content in his declaration was meant to disparage or injure the plaintiffs in the way of the office held by them, as stated in their statement of claim, and was too remote in law to sustain an action.

Raja Petra, who filed his defence on Oct 24 last year, applied to the court to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claim with costs.

On July 22 last year, Lt-Kol Abdul Aziz Buyong and his wife Lt-Kol Norhayati Hassan sued Raja Petra for defamation over his allegations that the couple was at the crime scene the night Altantuya was murdered.

They are seeking RM1mil each in damages from the editor as well as exemplary damages, costs and any other relief deemed fit by the court.

The couple is also seeking an injunction to restrain Raja Petra or his agents from further defaming them in any way.

In their statement, Lt-Kol Abdul Aziz and Lt-Kol Norhayati – who are both attached to the army’s engineering corps – highlighted five portions of Raja Petra’s declaration that they deemed were libellous.

They alleged that the defendant had prepared and distributed the declaration with malicious intent to jeopardise and ruin their reputation, credibility, good name and career.

On Tuesday, High Court deputy registrar Norhatini Abdul Hamid met Raja Petra’s lawyer J.Chandra and counsel Sugandra Rao, who represented the defendants, in her chambers for case management. She set Feb 11 next year for mention, pending the parties’ preparation of documents for the matter.