KUALA LUMPUR: Former Perlis Mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin @Abdul Talib pleaded not guilty in the Gombak Timur Syariah Court Wednesday to a charge of conducting a religious lecture without a certification of authority.
Dr Mohd Asri, 38, is charged with committing the offence at a house at No 2 Lorong 2C, Taman Sri Ukay, Ampang, between 8.10pm and 9.45pm on Nov 1.
The charge, under Section 119(1) of the Selangor Islamic Religious Administration Enactment 2003, carries a jail sentence of up to two years or a fine of up to RM3,000 or both upon conviction.
Prosecuting was Selangor Syarie Chief Prosecutor Abdul Shukor Abdul Hamid who applied for the case to be transferred to the Syariah High Court on the grounds that the facts of the case necessitated a more accurate application and interpretation of the law, adding that there was also wide media coverage and that the accused was an influential person.
“We filed an affidavit on Nov 12 to have the case transferred and to have it heard by another judge,” he said.
Lawyer Kamar Ainiah Kamaruszaman, representing Dr Mohd Asri, objected to the charge saying that it was vague because although it mentioned conducting a lecture without a certification of authority, it did not state in details the actual scope of the certification.
“I ask that the prosecution narrow the scope of the charge as it will give rise to various interpretations.
“The affidavit on Nov 12 to transfer the case to the High Court is in fact beyond the scope of the charge and is not in accordance with the format under which this issue should be dealt with,” she said.
Kamar Ainiah contended that the prosecution’s application appeared to be in contempt of court for suggesting that the court and the judge were not qualified to handle the case.
“If this is allowed, our client would be deprived of his rights to appeal to the Syariah High Court and Syariah Appeal Court. The prosecution’s statement that the accused is an influential person is not relevant to the case,” she said.
Syarie Judge Wan Mahyuddin Wan Muhammad rejected the application on the grounds that it could only be allowed if the prosecution could justify the reason.
He also said that the court felt that the case should be expedited.
“If the application is allowed, it will cause postponements and this will cause prejudice to the accused and subjudice to the court as the matter would have been reported in the media.
“There have been many similar cases handled by the lower Syariah Court without any problem; the court therefore feels that it has the power to hear the case,” he said.
He later ordered Mohd Asri to be freed on a bail bond of RM3,000 with two sureties and fixed Jan 5 for the trial.
Mohd Md Sadik and Mohd Ismail Mirasa posted the bond. -- Bernama
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