V-P of PKR ordered to enter 'provocation' defence

KUALA LUMPUR • Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) vice-president and secretary-general Rafizi Ramli has been ordered by the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court to enter his defence on a charge of having allegedly "defamed" and "provoked" Umno party members by accusing them of instigating racial tensions.

The order came after Sessions Court judge Azwarnida Affandi ruled that the prosecution had a prima facie case against Rafizi, who allegedly said Umno members were behind a plan to attack churches in Selangor last year, reported the Malay Mail Online.

In a text message, Rafizi's lawyer Eric Paulsen said the judge "came out and briefly said she looked through the evidence, and that the prosecution had proven a prima facie case", reported Free Malaysia Today. "The case will not be transferred to the High Court," Mr Paulsen added. "We will go through the defence and wait for the decision."

The Pandan MP allegedly made the accusations against Umno members during an interview with a journalist from The Edge Financial Daily for an article published early last year, "Will Rafizi quit if Selangor is not toppled?", during the controversial Kajang by-election.

At the time, several Muslim groups and Umno had planned a mass anti-Christian rally in Klang in response to widespread criticism of religious authorities and the federal government. The rally was called off after a public outcry over the plan.

The hearing against Rafizi is set for Aug 20. He faces charges under Section 504 of the Penal Code for causing intentional insult to provoke a breach of peace.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charge. The charge carries a maximum jail sentence of two years, or a fine, or both. He was initially investigated under sedition laws, but the charges were later framed under the Penal Code.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 30, 2015, with the headline 'V-P of PKR ordered to enter 'provocation' defence'. Print Edition | Subscribe