Shafee vs RPK: Three articles defamatory, says court

By M. Mageswari, The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Lawyer Datuk Seri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah succeeded in getting a judgement against Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamarudin over three defamatory articles without having to go for a full trial.

High Court judge Justice John Louis O’Hara held that all offending words in the articles were defamatory of Muhammad Shafee.

He ruled that Raja Petra was liable for defamation and ordered for damages to be assessed by a registrar.

The judge ordered Raja Petra to pay RM5,000 to Muhammad Shafee in litigations costs.

“It is clear to the court that the defendant admits that the articles were published but (fell) short in admitting that he had published the articles.

“The articles were false and malicious,” said Justice O’Hara.

He said that although the commentaries posted on the online portal were defamatory of Shafee, the court could not determine whether Raja Petra was liable for the publication of the commentaries through this application to dispose the suit based on point of law.

Earlier, Muhammad Shafee’s lawyer, S.Ravindran, applied for RM10,000 in costs but Raja Petra’s counsel Jadadish Chandra requested that each party bear the costs as his client was currently a bankrupt and not in the country.

In an immediate response, Muhammad Shafee said that he was very happy with the court ruling.

“The court finds it completely unneccesary to have a full trial because from their defence, they have shown no defence,” he said.

Muhammad Shafee said he would definitely go for the assesment of the damages due to disposal of the defamation suit based on point of law.

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.