Danish national first to be sentenced under Anti-Fake News law

KUALA LUMPUR: A Danish national is the first to be punished under the newly enacted Anti-Fake News Act, over a YouTube video he had posted regarding the shooting of a supposed Hamas member.

Salah Salem Saleh Sulaiman, 46, pleaded guilty to maliciously publishing fake news in the form of a YouTube video under the user name Salah Sulaiman and was sentenced to a week's jail and fined RM10,000.

The Cyber Court, where the case was heard, also played back the video, in which he claimed he was with the Palestinian victim during the shooting and made countless calls to the police who arrived the scene 50 minutes later while an ambulance came an hour later.

He is accused of committing the offence between 6.50am and 9am on April 21, in the area of the Puteri Idaman condominium, on Jalan Meranti, Setapak, here.

Salah was the first person to be charged and punished under Section 4(1) of the Anti-Fake News Act 2018, which carries a punishment of up to six years in prison and a fine of up to RM500,000.

He was also offered an alternative charge under Section 233(3) of the Communication and Multimedia Act 1998, for uploading false communication with the intent to annoy, abuse or threaten another person.

The alternative charge carries a lighter sentence of up to one year's prison and a maximum RM50,000 fine.

Salah, who was not represented by a lawyer, plead guilty to the first charge.

Deputy public prosecutor Noor Jazilah Mohd Yushaa urged the court for an appropriate punishment, saying the video had damaged the reputation of the police and the nation.

"The high fine amount stipulated shows it's a serious offence, and something that needs to be addressed. A stiff penalty would be a lesson not just to the accused, but the public at large," she said.

In mitigation, Salah said he was a visitor, having only been here for 10 days and did not know that Malaysia had such a law.

However, he admitted it was a mistake and apologised for any hurt that the video may have caused.

Sessions Court Judge Zaman Mohd Noor sentenced him to a week's jail from the date of arrest and a fine of RM10,000.

As Salah had been in remand since being arrested on April 23, the jail term was considered served.

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