KUALA LUMPUR: The Sessions Court here today has ordered a discharge not amounting to an acquittal(DNAA) for PKR leaders Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Azmin Ali and Badrul Hisham Shahrin and three others on charges relating to the Bersih 3.0 rally on April 28, 2012.
Judge Ahmad Bache ruled that the charges against the six men were "defective" following the decision by the Court of Appeal earlier this week which had declared a Magistrate's Court order banning the rally within Dataran Merdeka invalid.
"After considering the arguments by both parties and perusing several authorities, I therefore find that the charges as they stand now, as defective following the decision of the Court of Appeal declaring the said order invalid. Hence it follows that the charges are groundless," said Ahmad Bache.
"As the charges are groundless I have no choice but to order a discharge not amounting to an acquittal."
Further explaining his decision, Ahmad Bache said that he had considered whether the granting or not granting of the order for a DNAA would prejudice any parties.
"I find that if DNAA is not granted, the accused will be more prejudiced than the prosecution, as the charges will be hanging over their heads whilst the prosecution has the advantage of having the liberty to recharge them later," he said.
As soon as the decision was announced, PKR supporters in the court cheered and hugged their leaders. Azmin told reporters: "Alhamdulillah(Praise Allah). This is a landmark decision."
Meanwhile, lead prosecutor Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin said that the Attorney-General's Chambers will consider filing a revision against the order granted today.
Court was supposed to decide today over their application for a DNAA as well as whether to allow the prosecution's application for a stay of the trial pending an application at the Federal Court to reverse the Appeals Court (COA).
On the prosecution's application for a stay of the trial, the judge said that the prosecution should have made that appeal at the COA itself.
"This court is mindful that an appeal to higher court, in this case the Federal Court, cannot operate as a stay of execution of any judgment or orders given by the court. The decision of the COA is hence to be observed and complied forthwith," he said.
On Jan 6, the Court of Appeal decided to set aside Magistrate Zaki Asyraf Zubir's order preceding Bersih 3.0, prohibiting any assembly at Dataran Merdeka between April 28 and May 1, 2012.
Following the Bersih 3.0 rally, Anwar, 65, was jointly charged on May 22, 2012. He was charged together with PKR deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali, 49, and Badrul Hisham, 35, with participating in a street protest at the location on April 28 the same year, which allegedly caused chaos in the capital.
The trio also faced a second charge of conniving with Tangam Raju, Rajesh Kumar and Farhan Ibrahim by inciting them to remove steel barricades at Jalan Raja the same day.
They were the first individuals to be charged under Section 4(2)(c) of the newly-enacted Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, which provides for a maximum fine of RM10,000, if convicted.
Later, the trio were slapped with a third charge of conspiring with Tangam, Rajesh, Farhan and five other supporters of the 'Coalition for Free and Fair Elections' (Bersih 3.0) to defy the Magistrate's Court order dated April 26, 2012 not to hold a rally at Dataran Merdeka between April 28 and May 1, 2012.
- Astro Awani