Court holds Raja Petra liable over articles

(Bernama) — The High Court today held blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin liable over three articles posted on his Malaysia-Today website three years ago and ruled that they were defamatory of senior lawyer Datuk Seri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

Justice Datuk John Louis O’Hara said words of a defamatory nature had been used in the articles as well as in the comments made by the public on the articles.

He said the quantum of damages would be assessed by a deputy registrar at a later date, and granted legal costs of RM5,000 to Muhammad Shafee’s counsel S.Ravindran.

O’Hara pointed out that Raja Petra had been declared a bankrupt, but said it was not his concern whether Ravindran would be able to secure the money from the blogger.

Raja Petra’s counsel J. Chandra had objected to Ravindran’s suggestion that the costs be set at RM10,000, arguing that his client was a bankrupt and not in the country and that the parties should bear their own costs as decided by the Court of Appeal on a matter related to the suit.

Muhammad Shafee made an application on Jan 26 under Order 14A of the Rules of the High Court 1980 for the disposal of the suit based on a point of law without going for a full trial, claiming that there were defamatory words in the three articles posted on the Malaysia-Today website.

He had filed the suit against Raja Petra, 58, in August 2008 for posting on Aug 6, 7 and 11 of that year the three articles titled “Shafee Abdullah: Sodomologist Extraordinaire”, “Money, Power and Sex: What Motivates Man” and “The Real Dalang Behind The Anwar Sodomy Allegation” on the website, which he claimed had defamed him.

On Aug 13, 2008, Muhammad Shafee obtained an ex-parte injunction from the High Court ordering Raja Petra to remove from the website the three articles as well as all the comments related to them.

In a statement of defence filed on Nov 25, 2008, Raja Petra denied that the three articles were false, malicious or defamatory of the lawyer.

Muhammad Shafee, when contacted over the judgement, said the documentation filed in defence by Raja Petra via his counsel was “no defence at all” and that his claim against the allegation had been proven right.