KUALA LUMPUR: A Danish horse groomer is the first to be punished under the newly enacted Anti-Fake News Act, but claimed he did not know of such law in Malaysia as he had only been here for 10 days.
Salah Salem Saleh Sulaiman, 46, pleaded guilty to maliciously publishing fake news in the form of a YouTube video regarding the assassination of university lecturer Dr Fadi Albatsh, a supposed Hamas member, and was sentenced to a week’s jail and fined RM10,000.
Dr Fadi was gunned down at about 6am on April 21 as he was walking from his condominium to a nearby surau in Jalan Meranti for dawn prayers.
He was reportedly shot more than 10 times at close range by two unidentified men on a motorcycle.
The Cyber Court, where Salah’s case was heard, also played back the video, in which he claimed he was with the Palestinian lecturer during the shooting and made countless calls to the police, who arrived at 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 in Jalan Meranti, Setapak, here.
Salah, who has three wives and six children, is 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 also faced 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 a year’s prison and a maximum RM50,000 fine.
Salah, who was not represented by a lawyer, pleaded guilty to the first charge.
Deputy public prosecutor Noor Jazilah Mohd Yushaa urged the court to hand down an appropriate punishment, saying the video had damaged the reputation of the police and the nation.
“The high amount of fine stipulated shows that it is a serious offence and it needs to be addressed.
“A stiff penalty would be a lesson not just to the accused, but to the public at large,” she said.
In mitigation, Salah admitted that he had made a mistake and apologised for any hurt that the video might 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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