Friday, May 9, 2008

Updated at 2pm: RPK is Released!

Malaysia's first blogger to be charged with sedition (Source: Mob's Crib)

Finally i breathed a sigh of relief. 

After bail was posted yesterday, and after 2 candle light vigils, RPK was released at 9.30am. 

This guy is really principled, and is good at making his statements heard. He refused to eat prison food (which led to the prison guards claiming that he was on a hunger strike), citing that the food was paid for by the Rakyat (citizens in malay), and he did not agree that the money was well spent this way. Absolutely, wasting the nation's coffer to stifle the voices of the people is a real waste of taxpayer's money. 

Interestingly he was remanded in the same prison where the 2 suspects who allegedly bombed Altantuya were jailed as well. RPK claimed to be shouted and threatened by these 2 accused, and only agreed to post bail after the prison authority told him that they could not guarantee his safety in the prison...

Seriously, the prison authority sounds really lame. 

Raja Petra out, explains U-turn on bail
Syed Jaymal Zahiid | May 9, 08 10:13am
The only reason Raja Petra Kamarudin decided to post bail today was because he had received information that his safety might be in jeopardy.

raja petra released from prison 090508 03After the news portalMalaysia Today editor was released on bail at 9.30am at the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court today, reporters were informed of to why he had suddenly changed his mind.

"The prison authority told me that they cannot guarantee my safety because they had received some reports of threat and that Sirul (Azhar Umar) and Azilah (Hadri) had shouted and said that something will happen to me," he told reporters.

Sirul and Azilah are the two primary murder suspects in the ongoing hearing of the killing of Altantuya Shaariibuu, a young Mongolian woman. Both are currently being remanded at the Sungai Buloh prison where Raja Petra prior to today, had been detained as well.

Raja Petra also said that despite police attempt to guarantee that no harm will come to him by stationing Special Forces Unit (UTK) personnel to guard him, nothing was certain.

"They told me that there are some 6,000 people in the prison and that there was no guarantee that any of them can't be bought including the guards so they advised me to meet my wife and post bail," he added.

The popular blogger also dismissed suggestions by the media that it was most probably the prison condition that had forced him to change his mind.

"I have been detained under the Internal Security Act before. They put me in solitary confinement which is worst than what I had experienced in Sungai Buloh," replied the blooger who looked tired but nevertheless in good spirit.

Not on a hunger strike

Raja Petra's decision to post bail was surprising as he had previously bewildered many including lawyers and family members by refusing to have any contact with them, including his wife Marina Lee Abdullah, two days ago.

And this was just a day after he had refused to post bail after being charged.

raja petra released from prison 090508 02Marina had gone to the Sungai Buloh prison to meet her husband on Tuesday morning to ask him if he would want to post bail after having raised RM35,000 from well-wishers.

However, she was told by the prison warden that Raja Petra did not want to see anybody, including her, and had also refused to eat.

Marina was finally able to meet her husband yesterday and was told he had agreed to post bail.

When asked why he had done so, Raja Petra said that he had no reason to meet them as he did not want anyone to convince him to post bail.

"I had intended to stay until my hearing which is in October (but) changed my mind following the advise of the prison authorities," he said.

He also said that he did not go on hunger strike as reported earlier but had refused to eat food provided by the prison.

"The food is paid by rakyat. I don't think the rakyat money is being well spent so I refused to eat prison food," he said.

raja petra released from prison 090508 01A handcuffed Raja Petra was brought to the court from the prison at about 9.25am. He was wearing the same yellow long sleeved shirt and jeans that he wore on the day he was charged.

He later changed first into a black 'RPK C4ME' T-shirt and then a yellow T-shirt.

There were some 50 supporters waiting for his arrival at the court, who clapped their hands upon seeing him. He raised his hands to them.

The supporters wore yellow T-shirt with Raja Petra's face and the words ‘Justice for all...tantuya' imprinted on it.

Raja Petra, who has been charged for sedition, had opted to go to prison instead of paying the RM5,000 bail three days ago, which he said he could not afford.

Hearing has been fixed from Oct 6 to 10 and Raja Petra would have to remain in custody until the hearing date in five months' time should he decide not to post bail.

Charged with sedition

raja petra released from prison 090508 07Raja Petra was charged on Tuesday over his article that allegedly implied that Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his wife of being involved in the killing of Altantuya.

Raja Petra claimed trial to the charge. He was charged under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act for publishing the seditious article on April 25 on Malaysia Today.

The charge sheet highlighted nine paragraphs of the article which was titled 'Let's send the Altantuya murderers to hell' as seditious.

He is the first blogger to be charged for sedition in Malaysia.

Meanwhile three men were detained by police last night for participating in a candlelight vigil held as a show of support for Raja Petra at Dataran Merdeka.

Dang Wangi police chief ACP Mohamad Zulkarnain Abdul Rahman said they were among a crowd of about 100 who had gathered at Dataran Merdeka since 8pm.

"The protestors dispersed peacefully about and hour later but the three of them were detained for questioning and were subsequently released," he was quoted as saying in Bernama.

He added the gathering did not have a permit from the police. 

Najib denies accusations

Najib, who is expected to take over from Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as the country's next premier, has denied the charge against Raja Petra was politically motivated, the News Straits Timesreported yesterday.

raja petra released from prison 090508 04"The government has always taken a very liberal stand with bloggers and the Internet. But there are laws in this country related to sedition and defamation.

"Just because you operate from cyberspace, it does not absolve you from having those laws applied to you," he said, according to the newspaper.

Analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, who has links with Najib and top government leaders, has been charged with abetting the killing of 28-year-old Altantuya, whose body was blown up with explosives.

Sirul and Azilah - two police officers from an elite force, whose duties included guarding the prime minister and Najib - were charged with the killing.

(adapted from Malaysiakini)

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