Monday 27 June 2011

Nazri: Sex video screening is judge's prerogative

De facto Law Minister Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz told the House today that the decision to hold the screening of the sex video allegedly featuring Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim “is up to the judge”.

“It is the discretion of the magistrate whether to screen or not. It is not for me to tell him what to do.”

The issue cropped up today when veteran opposition parliamentarian Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor), when debating the Judges' Remuneeration (Amendment) Bill 2011, asked if it was proper for magistrate Aizatul Akmal Maharani to allow for screening of the sex video while the public was watching the proceedings.

datuk t charged in court frontLast week, former Malacca chief minister Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik was charged with abetting former Perkasa treasurer-general Shuib Lazim and businessperson Shazryl Eskay Abdullah in “openly” screening pornographic material to a group of journalists on March 21.

The three, who had veiled themselves under the moniker 'Datuk T', said they screened the sex video to divulge the “truth” that the person featured in the video is unfit to be a leader.
In order to determine if the video contained pornography, it was screened in the courtroom, although the sex scenes were fast-forwarded.

“The magistrate (in the) case (had acted in) an unprecedented (manner). In the case related to Datuk T (where) the pornographic video was shown to journalists. It happens all the time (and) in this age it is a normal thing,” said Karpal.

“But in this case, what procedures are being followed? Why are other means being used, was it bona fide (in good faith)?

“In this case, why was there a need to prove the identity of the actor in the porn video? Who is the mastermind? Who is the puppeteer in this matter? There is nothing extraordinary (in the case),” said Karpal.

'The magistrate abused his power'

He insisted that the magistrate had “abused his power” in screening the video and asked how can the act be defended” as it involved a person who was not represented on that day.

Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia then interjected, and pointed out to Karpal that the latter had previously applied to screen the video in the Dewan Rakyat, which was later denied.

“I said show it in Parliament not to the public, and in court, it can be done as well but it should have been done in camera,” said Karpal, adding that it had affected the reputation of the opposition leader.

However, responding to the debate, Nazri repeatedly said that he cannot intervene with the magistrate's decisions as it was the latter's call.

Opposition parliamentarian R Sivarasa then asked if there could have been a “conspiracy as there was a rumour that the prosecution did not ask for the video to be played , but it was initiated by the defence counsel”.

“I don't know whether there was a conspiracy or not... I can't give you an opinion, the judge is the boss in his court and those who aren't happy with his decision can appeal,” Nazri reiterated.

'Zaki was in Umno to discipline the party'

On a related matter, Karpal and Ngeh Khoo Ham (DAP-Beruas) also asked why there should be an increase in the judges' retirement benefits and pension, when Chief Justice Zaki Azmi had allegedly admitted during a convention in Kuching in 2008 that he (Zaki) had bribed court officials while a practising lawyer.

azlanNgeh also pointed out that when Zaki was a lawyer the latter represented Umno in plenty of court petitions.

However, Nazri shot down the allegation, arguing that although Zaki was formerly Umno disciplinary committee head, it has not affected his judgments.

“There is no evidence... we (Umno) appointed him (Zaki) as a lawyer, to be professional. He was disciplinary committee head to discipline Umno, not to become Umno's representative,” fired Nazri.

After a long-winded debate and heated exchanges on issues relating to the judiciary including the screening of the sex video in court, the amendment to the Act was passed.

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