PUTRAJAYA: Former social and political activist Dr Kassim @ Osman Ahmad (pic) has been acquitted and discharged by the Syariah High Court here of insulting Islam and defying Muslim authorities.
Syarie judge Azzeman Omar freed Kassim, 84, on grounds that the Syarie prosecution chief has the power to appoint any of its officers to withdraw the charges against Kassim.
Azzeman disagreed with Syarie prosecuting officer Mohd Amirul Adam Ahmad’s submission that they needed written approval from the prosecution chief to enable them to withdraw the charges.
He made the order after the prosecution withdrew three charges against Kassim after agreeing with the Court of Appeal and Federal Court’s decisions that the arrest and prosecution were invalid.
“The prosecution has withdrawn the charges against the accused. The court now acquits and discharges the accused. The bail imposed earlier will be refunded,” he said yesterday.
Kassim was released on a total of RM6,000 bail in three sureties when he was first charged in 2014.
Azzeman, in his ruling, said the power to withdraw the charges was not the exclusive jurisdiction of the Syarie prosecution chief.
“The prosecution chief can appoint those qualified to act and carry out the duty (to withdraw). Thus, the prosecuting officer has the power to withdraw the charges,” he said.
Earlier, Mohd Amirul submitted that they agreed with the Court of Appeal and Federal Court decisions, adding that they had been directed not to proceed with any proceedings pending the appointment of a new Syarie prosecution chief.
Meanwhile, Kassim’s lawyer Rosli Dahlan argued that the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court ruled that the Federal Territories Islamic Department’s (Jawi) enforcement action and prosecution against his client was invalid.
“My client should be acquitted and discharged under Section 86(g) of the Syariah Criminal Procedure Act,” he said.
On March 7, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Justice Richard Malanjum, who chaired the Federal Court’s three-man panel, dismissed an application for leave to appeal by the Government and Jawi.
The other judges on the panel were Justices Zainun Ali and Balia Yusof Wahi. The panel upheld the decision made by the Court of Appeal on Dec 21, 2015.
Other applicants in the case were Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom and then Federal Territory Syariah chief prosecutor.
The court ordered the applicants to pay costs of RM20,000 to Kassim.