Six people were charged with sedition yesterday for protesting with a severed cow’s head outside the state secretariat building on Aug 28 against the relocation of a Hindu temple to their residential area.
Ahmad Mahayuddin Abd Manaf,36, Ibrahim Sabri, 42, Eyzva Ezhar Ramly, 31, Mohd Azmir Mohd Zin,35, Ahmad Suhairi Zakaria, 30, and Mohd Hilmi Ni, 40, pleaded not guilty when the charges were read out to them before Sessions Court judge Hasbi Hasan.
They were charged under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act 1948 with either bringing or stepping on a cow’s head or both with tendency to incite dissatisfaction and animosity against Hindus at 2.25pm.
This offence carries a maximum fi ne of RM5,000 or three years jail or both for the first offender. They also pleaded not guilty to an optional charge of deliberately intending to wound religious feeling of Hindus under Section 298 of the Penal Code, which carries a maximum of one year’s jail or a fine or both on conviction.
Ahmad Mahayuddin and Ibrahim, who are the chairman and deputy chairman respectively of Section 23 residents’ committee, were charged with stepping on the cow’s head, Eyzva Ezhar with bringing the cow’s head, and Mohd Azmir, Ahmad Suhairy and Mohd Hilmi with bringing the cow’s head and stepping on it during the illegal assembly to protest against the relocation of a Hindu temple from Section 19 to Section 23.
That demonstration received wide coverage and a video recording was uploaded online. The six were later charged with six others in a magistrate’s court with taking part in an illegal assembly in front of Bangunan Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah at the same time and date. They claimed trial.
The others were Jainudin @ Zainudin Md Yusuff, 67, Mohd Jurit Ramli, 39, Mohammad Nordin Zakaria, 46, Jamil Mohamed Isa, 40, Rahimuddin Md Harun, 39, Azhari Shaari, 30.
The charge under Section 27 (5) (a) of the Police Act 1967, punishable under Section 27(8) carries a fine of a minimum RM2,000 to RM10,000 and a one-year jail sentence.
Judge Hasbi granted the men charged with sedition bail of RM4,000 with one surety. For the illegal assembly charge,magistrate Norkamilay Aziz granted them RM300 bail with one surety.
However, for the other six, the bail was RM500 with one surety. Their cases will be mentioned on Oct 21 in both courts. Earlier, DPP Dusuki Mohd Mokhtar had suggested RM15,000 bail each for the first six accused of sedition.
Datuk Salehuddin Saidin, for the defence, said the amount was high as the maximum fi ne is RM5,000. He said the accused were informed to attend court only on Tuesday. He said their intent was not to insult the religion of other races.
“For the Malays, cows are synonymous with stupidity and it was not to make fun of another religion.” Dusuki, however, argued for a higher bail as the case involved public interest and had received wide publicity.
He said RM500 is appropriate for illegal assembly cases under the Police Act and not a charge under the Sedition Act. In reply, Salehuddin said wide coverage should not be a factor to determine the bail amount.
In the magistrate’s court, Dusuki suggested RM10,000 bail with one surety. Salehuddin said usually, the bail amount for illegal assembly is RM500, and there is no evidence that the accused will abscond.
He said he would apply for the cases in the Sessions Court and in the magistrate’s court to be jointly tried and that the case may eventually be transferred to the Sessions Court. All the accused posted bail.