PETALING JAYA: Veteran singer Datuk Sharifah Aini Syed Jaafar was charged in a magistrate’s court yesterday with defaming pop icon Siti Nurhaliza Tarudin through an e-mail.
The award-winning songstress claimed trial to a summons alleging that she had on Aug 24 sent an e-mail containing derogatory statements about Siti Nurhaliza to her adopted brother Ahmad Shaharil Jamaludin.
Clad in a beige and floral baju kurung, the 51-year-old Sharifah Aini stood outside the dock and denied that she committed the offence at her house at 42, Lorong Utara, off Jalan Utara, here, at 4.52pm that day knowing that it would tarnish Siti Nurhaliza’s reputation.
The five alleged defamatory statements in the e-mail touched on Siti Nurhaliza’s looks and that she artificially enhanced it, as well as allegations regarding her private life and that she made demands for more money before staging a show.
Sharifah Aini could be jailed for up to two years or fined, or both, if found guilty under Section 500 of the Penal Code.
Section 499 explains criminal defamation as “whoever, by words either spoken or intended to be read or by signs, or by visible representations, makes or publishes any imputation concerning any person, intending to harm, or knowing or having reason to believe that such imputation will harm the reputation of such person, is said to have defamed that person.”
Sharifah was released after her bailer posted RM4,000.
She made her entrance to the court premises at 2.20pm.
Her lawyer Datuk Muhammad Shafee Abdullah joined her outside before a policewoman came to escort her to the courtroom. Just as Sharifah Aini crossed the door to the courtroom, two of her female friends joined her.
The three women walked to the public gallery and sat in the front row. Sharifah Aini sat between the two women, one of whom was later identified as Khalilah Mohd Talha, who later stood bail for her.
To accommodate the large crowd, the Sessions courtroom was used by magistrate Azroul Hisham Azulan for the case.
When the case was called, Sharifah Aini stepped forward and stood behind Shafee.
As the charge was read out by interpreter Dayang Mas Ayu Nilawati Mohd Nor, Sharifah Aini looked calm and composed and nodded her head several times.
There was one moment when her mobile phone, left in her handbag at the gallery, rang and she turned to her friends, gesturing to them to switch it off.
Sharifah Aini made faces as the charge was read.
When the interpreter read out the first part of the offending e-mail, the singer raised her eyebrows and then frowned.
She smiled as the second part was read, but there were loud murmurs and gasps from the gallery. When the charges were fully read, she said she understood the charge.
“Saya tak mengaku ... Saya mengaku tak bersalah. (I don’t admit it. I mean, I plead not guilty),” she said.
Senior prosecuting officer Asst Supt Moktar Mohd Noor then asked for bail to be set at RM5,000 in one surety.
Shafee objected, saying a police bail would suffice because the charge was merely a summons. ASP Moktar said the bail offered was reasonable as the case was considered high profile.
He also said the prosecution would apply for a joint trial with a Penang case involving Ahmad Shaharil, who is a lecturer.
Shafee asked for an early trial date and objected to a joint trial, saying the alleged defamatory articles involved in the Penang case were different from the one here. The court then set bail at RM4,000 and for the case to be mentioned again on Dec 29 to determine whether there was a need to have a joint trial.
The proceedings ended at 2.45pm.