Dancer freed of balloon charge

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 02 Jul 2016

KUALA LUMPUR: Dance producer Bilqis Hijjas has been freed by the magistrate’s court of a charge of dropping yellow balloons at an event attended by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his wife.

Magistrate Muhamad Faizal Ismail said the prosecution had failed to prove a prima facie case against Bilqis.

“Such a case is rare for full trial, as most people would have just admitted guilt. Nonetheless, as there were no previous cases of similar judgment to refer to, I made careful consideration based on both the pro­secution and defence,” he said yesterday.

He added that the witnesses’ statements could not prove that Bilqis intended to provoke and stir anger, and that one statement was merely based on the witness’ opinion of the situation.

“The statement by the witness who said there was a breach of peace could not be proven as the event proceeded as planned and there was no stampede among the public when the balloons fell,” he said.

Defence counsel Eric Paulsen said he was pleased with the judgment.

“We hope that the Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) will not appeal the case as it is a minor offence,” he said.

Free to go: Bilqis (centre) and Paulsen (left) leaving the magistrate’s court after the hearing.— Bernama
Free to go: Bilqis (centre) and Paulsen (left) leaving the magistrate’s court after the hearing. —Bernama

Bilqis, 36, said she was grateful to the judge for having considered the case with great seriousness.

“It is a very minor event and a dangerous precedent that such a minor offence can be taken as a crime,” she said.

Bilqis, the daughter of prominent architect Hijjas Kasturi, was accused of dropping the balloons from the fifth floor of the Pavilion shopping mall in Bukit Bintang at about 3.15pm on Aug 31 while Najib and Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor were attending the Diverse­City 2015 Kuala Lumpur International Arts Festival on the ground floor.

The balloons contained the words “democracy”, “free media” and “justice”, following the Bersih 4 rally which took place a day earlier.

She was charged under Section 14 of the Minor Offences Act 1955 for behaving in an insulting manner with the purpose of stirring anger which would likely cause a disturbance.

The offence carries a fine of not more than RM100 upon conviction.

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