The Straits Times
Published on Dec 21, 2012

Malaysian student jailed over anti-government protest


KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - A Malaysian court jailed a student activist for a month on Friday over his role in a protest, despite the government's pledge to increase freedom of speech and assembly.

State news agency Bernama reported that a magistrate's court had found Umar Mohd Azmi guilty of obstructing a Kuala Lumpur City Hall officer during the protest against the government's university loan scheme in April. The 23-year-old final year undergraduate had allegedly obstructed the officer from arresting a fellow activist on April 23, during a week-long occupation of a historic landmark in the capital.

Umar's lawyer Syahredzan Johan told AFP: "We were surprised because even the deputy public prosecutor did not ask for a jail sentence."

He added that his request to stay the sentence pending an appeal was rejected by magistrate Zaki Asyraf Zubir, despite the prosecution having no objections. Instead, a stay application will only be heard by the High Court here on Monday, forcing Umar to spend the weekend in prison, Syahredzan said.