Court adjourns Home Minister’s appeal against Raja Petra’s release from ISA detention

(The Star) – The Federal Court has adjourned the hearing of the Home Minister’s appeal against Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Raja Kamarudin’s release from detention under the Internal Security Act to a date to be fixed.

This is after the prosecution failed to serve the notice of appeal to Raja Petra causing his absence at the hearing Thursday.

At the outset of court proceedings, DPP Tun Abd Majid Tun Hamzah notified the Federal Court that the respondent was not served with the notice of appeal for the hearing which resulted in his absence for the case and asked the apex court to set another day to hear the appeal.

When Federal Court judge Justice Hashim Yusoff asked him what the chances were of them serving the notice, DPP Tun Abd Majid said Raja Petra’s addresss was still unknown.

However, Raja Petra’s lead counsel Malik Imtiaz Sarwar said the defence team was proceeding with the case based on the instructions given by the editor last year.

“We have not received fresh instructions from Raja Petra. Through the newspapers, MACC had been in touch with him,” he said.

Malik also stated that the matter was academic in relation to the Sept 22 detention order.

“There is nothing stopping the minister from issuing a new order as it is already two years,” Malik said.

DPP Tun Abd Majid, however, stated that it would only be academic after Sept 21.

“Now, the order is still valid,” he said.

Chief Judge of Malaya Justice Arifin Zakaria, who chaired a three-man panel, adjourned the appeal to be heard to a date yet to be fixed.

With him were Justice Hashim and Federal Court judge Justice James Foong Cheng Yuen.

Speaking to reporters later, DPP Tun Abd Majid, said “We do not know his whereabouts. The right address is not known to us”.

On Nov 7, 2008 Shah Alam High Court freed Raja Petra after it found that his two-year detention order under ISA was unlawful. He was held for 56 days.

Raja Petra was arrested on Sept 12, 2008 as he was deemed a threat to national security and the order to detain him under the ISA was issued on Sept 22, 2008. He was held for 56 days.

He was detained on the grounds that he, among others, owned and operated the Malaysia Today website and had intentionally and recklessly published his articles and also readers’ comments on Malaysia Today that were critical of and insulted Muslims, the purity of Islam and the personality of Prophet Muhammad.

In filing the habeas corpus application, Raja Petra named the Home Minister as the respondent.