Father-and-son duo walk free after prosecution withdraws appeal against acquittal

Lawyers Haresh Mahadevan (left) and Ramzani Idris (right) having a word with the respondents after the court decision.

SEREMBAN: A father and son walked free out of the High Court here after the prosecution decided to withdraw an appeal to challenge the decision of a lower court to acquit and discharge the duo on a charge of allegedly possessing duty free beer.

Judge Rohani Ismail dismissed the case after Deputy Public Prosecutor Mohd Erei Yuskha Mohd Yusof said the prosecution decided not to appeal following a representation filed by P. Aplanayara, 67, and his businessman son A. Kartik, 37.

On Oct 12, 2023, a Kuala Pilah Magistrate's Court had acquitted and discharged the two of a charge of possessing 1,248 cans of beer for which duty had not been paid.

Magistrate Saiful Sayoti had ruled that the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against the duo.

The prosecution, he said, had failed to establish if both the accused were in possession of the contraband beer and if they were the owners of the premises from where it was seized.

The duo were charged with being in possession of the beer worth RM3,368.16 without prior approval from Customs.

They were accused of committing the offence at 9.30pm on Feb 20, 2020, at a house in Taman Sri Gelugor here.

They were charged under Section 135(1)(d) of the Customs Act 1967, an offence punishable under Section 135(1)(v)(aa) of the same legislation.

Offenders can be fined 10 times the value of the goods or RM100,000, whichever is higher, or jailed between six months and five years, or both upon conviction.

For the second charge, it was said the accused had failed to prove that the excise duty on the cans amounting to RM13,011.60 had been paid as required under Section 74(1)(a) of the Excise Act 1976.

The offence, punishable under Section 74(1)(iv)(A) of the same Act, carries a fine of not less than 10 times the amount of the excise duty or RM50,000, whichever is higher; and not more than 20 times the amount of the excise duty or RM500,000, whichever is higher; or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or both, upon conviction.

When met outside the court later, counsel for the accused Haresh Mahadevan said the respondents had filed a representation to the Deputy Public Prosecutor’s office two months ago to reconsider their decision to appeal.

"In our representation, we had mentioned that there were glaring issues in the case which had been raised at the lower court and which led to the magistrate deciding in our favour," he said.

Mahadevan, who was assisted by Ramzani Idris, said this included missing exhibits and certain protocols related to the case not complied with.

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