Zoom-ing in on justice: Courts to use video-conferencing to hear criminal cases in Sabah and Sarawak

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 08 Jul 2020

PETALING JAYA: Sabah and Sarawak will make Malaysian history when the Federal Court and Appeals Court begin to hear criminal cases via video-conferencing starting July 9 and July 13 respectively.

The trials would be heard using the Zoom platform.

This follows the successful hearing of civil appeal cases via video-conferencing in the two states since June 15.

According to the Federal Court chief registrar, it all started with the introduction of the online hearing of civil cases in March during the movement control order (MCO) imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It gradually progressed to an online mediation platform introduced on June 2, e-appellate hearing on June 9, online hearing of petition applications on June 10, and the hearing of civil cases via video-conferencing at Sabah and Sarawak Appeals Court on June 15.

The registrar said the presiding panel of judges would hear the cases via video-conferencing from the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya, while the accused, the public prosecutor and the defence counsel would be at a court nearest to the prison where the accused is held.

The first criminal trial via video-conferencing would be heard at the Kota Kinabalu Federal Court on Thursday (July 9).

Two criminal appeal cases would be heard, against a conviction and death sentence meted under Section 39 (B) (1) (a) of the Dangerous Drug Act 1952.

The convict would be brought from the Kota Kinabalu Prison to the Kota Kinabalu Court Complex. The panel of judges would hear the case from the Technology Court at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya.

Meanwhile, video-conferencing to hear criminal appeal cases is scheduled on July 13 at the Kuching Appeals Court where seven cases have been lined up for the day.

The cases are under Sections 395,379A, 354 (four cases), and 302 of the Penal Code.

The prisoners would be brought from the Puncak Borneo Prison to the Kuching Court Complex.

The Malaysia judicial body expressed gratitude to the Attorney General’s Chambers, Sabah Law Society, Advocates Association of Sarawak and the Malaysia Prison Department for supporting the initiative to hear criminal cases via video-conferencing.

"In view of the movement control order, such an initiative would help accelerate the hearing of appeal cases especially those involving death sentences, and appeals in higher courts.

"This saves time and logistics costs, and most importantly technology is utilised to accord stakeholders and the public continuous access to justice," the registrar said in a statement Wednesday (July 8).

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