Rafizi’s defamation charge amended after he calls it ‘vague’

(FMT) – The charge against Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli for allegedly defaming Tabung Haji (TH) will be amended to add more details, the deputy public prosecutor (DPP) told the Magistrate’s Court, here today.

This comes one day after Rafizi had complained that his initial criminal defamation charge was vague.

The prosecution today agree to add more details on the alleged defamatory words.

DPP Abazafree Abbas told the Court that the prosecution agreed with Rafizi’s lawyer Gobind Singh that there was a need to explain details to the accused on the charge under Section 500 of the Penal Code so that Rafizi would be able to prepare his defence.

In the amended charge, it was alleged that Rafizi had claimed that the pilgrim board’s reserves had suffered a deficit for two years in a row, thus making TH incapable of returning all the savings by depositors should all of them decide to take out their savings in one go.

The Pandan MP had further claimed that the RM3.53 billion profit announced by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Khir Baharom did not take into account the losses suffered due to the drop in shares and security bonds that TH holds for its investment.

Another detail on the charge pertains to claims made by Rafizi that TH had paid bonuses that amounted to more than what it had earned in 2012 and 2014.

Rafizi had previously alleged that the 2012 excess bonus was due to the approaching general election, while the 2014 payout was to due to the 1MDB issue as the authorities needed to convince the public that issues affecting the state-owned fund had no effect on the local financial market.

Rafizi claimed trial to the amended charge again today, when it was read out before Magistrate Umzarul An Nur Umar.

According to the charge, he was accused of committing the offence at Tabung Haji Building, Jalan Tun Razak here on Feb 18, 2016.

If found guilty, he will face a maximum of two years in jail, or fine, or both.

The Magistrate’s Court fixed Sept 26 as the next mention.

The trial is also scheduled to start on Nov 28.

This is just one of the many court dates Rafizi has faced and will continue to face over his whistleblowing activities and other actions as a member of the federal opposition and an MP.

Last month, Rafizi was freed from a charge for insulting Umno members in a newspaper interview, three years ago.

The Shah Alam High Court ruled the charge under Section 504 was not proven and ordered the RM1,800 fine paid by Rafizi at the Sessions Court last year to be refunded.

He has another conviction under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) for possessing and leaking a page of the 1MDB audit report, and was sentenced to three years jail by the Sessions Court, last year.

The High Court will rule on his appeal tomorrow.

Rafizi is also currently standing trial for a charge under the Banking and Financial Institution Act or Bafia, for revealing confidential banking details in relation to the National Feedlot Corp (NFC) scandal.

Rafizi will be unable to stand in the coming election if he fails to set aside the OSA conviction and jail sentence.

Article 48 of the Federal Constitution disqualifies a person from being an MP for five years should the elected representative be convicted and sentenced to more than one year in jail, or fined more than RM2,000.