Appellate court frees anti-government activist Safwan Anang

Dec 20, 2016
Muhammad Safwan Anang discharged and acquitted by the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya on Tuesday Dec 20, 2017 ... photo MMO.
Muhammad Safwan Anang discharged and acquitted by the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya on Tuesday Dec 20, 2017 … photo MMO.

The Court of Appeal has acquitted anti-government activist Muhammad Safwan Anang of a sedition charge after hearing his appeal in Putrajaya today.

Safwan had faced a charge for calling on the people to topple the legitimately elected federal government helmed by Barisan Nasional through hostile and volatile street protests three years ago.

Justice Prasad Sandosham Abraham, who delivered the judgment, said the statement did not have a seditious tendency.

He said Safwan’s public call did not have a “seditious tendency.”

He said the court had to scrutinise and independently evaluate Safwan’s statement to judge on whether the language used came within the bounds of sedition or free speech.

Failure to do so by the court, he said would be a serious misdirection in law which renders the conviction unsafe.

“The prosecution has failed to prove a prima facie case against the appellant in the Sessions Court and therefore he should have been acquitted,” said Prasad, while dismissing the prosecution’s cross appeal to enhance Safwan’s sentence.

Safwan was charged with making a seditious speech at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall on May 13, 2013, for allegedly inciting the people to topple the government through street protests.

The speech was made a week after the 13th General Election (GE13), amid nationwide protests against Barisan Nasional rightful election victory.

On September 5, 2014, the Sessions Court sentenced him to 10 month’s jail and RM5,000 fine.

The 26-year-old former Universiti Malaya student was found guilty under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act 1948

On appeal, the High Court only maintained the fine.

The Court of Appeal led by Justices Mohtaruddin Baki, Zakaria Sam and Prasad heard the appeal by Safwan and the federal government in July this year.

Speaking to newsmen outside the court room later, Safwan vowed to campaign to abolish the Sedition Act.

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