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Tuesday, 15 November 2016

If PKR vice-president Mohd Rafizi Ramli’s conviction of 18 months in jail is not set aside by a higher court, he cannot contest in GE14


Rafizi risks losing seat in Parliament







KUALA LUMPUR: If PKR vice-president Mohd Rafizi Ramli’s conviction of 18 months in jail is not set aside by a higher court, he cannot contest in the next general election.

Rafizi was yesterday sentenced to 18 months' in jail by Sessions Court judge Zulqarnain Hassan for possessing confidential government document – the 1MDB audit report – and exposing it to media in March this year.

“If Parliament is dissolved today, he can’t stand for election,” said his lead counsel Gobind Singh Deo.

However, Gobind said Rafizi still remains the Pandan MP because of his appeal.



“If an MP serving is a term, a conviction in first court will not disqualify him. Only the final conviction by the appellate court (will disqualify him)," added Gobind.

In convicting him, judge Zulqarnain said a video of Rafizi giving a media conference on May 28 clearly showed he had committed the offences.

“In the video, I find that the accused not only knew, but had given comments and accepted questions from reporters on the matter in page 98 (of the 1MDB audit report)," he said in packed court where Rafizi's supporters kept mumbling, giving some remarks and clapping their hands during the proceedings.



Found guilty: Rafizi holding a press conference after posting bail at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court.

Judge Zulqarnain said Rafizi in the media conference that same day had read out each word in three paragraphs and a notation from the same page.

“The page 98 containing the paragraphs and a notation were posted in the webpage and Facebook and the cellphone of the accused,” said the judge.

Judge Zulqarnain said Rafizi in a press conference on March 24 had also admitted that the document was a secret and the risk involved for having it.

The copy of the page 98 had been confirmed by the Auditor-General who also stated that it had been classified as secret, said the judge, adding that he had no reason to reject this evidence.

Rafizi was charged with possessing page 98 of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd audit report without approval, which he acquired in violation of the OSA 1972.

He was said to have committed the offence at the Parliament lobby in Jalan Parlimen here at about 3pm on March 24 this year.

Rafizi, 39, was also accused of exposing without approval, the contents of the same page of the audit report during a press conference on March 28, endangering the secret.

He had on April 8 claimed trial to violating the Official Secrets Act 1972 (OSA).

He was later released on a RM3,000 bail pending disposal of the appeal.

In mitigation yesterday, Gobind asked the court not to impose custodial sentence on grounds that an MP can be disqualified under Article 48(1)(e) of the Federal Constitution if convicted and fined with more than RM2,000 or jailed a year.

He added that Rafizi, who is a qualified chartered accountant, has two previous convictions and that he has a three-year-old son, a wife and retired parents.

However, DPP Shukor Abu Bakar pressed for custodial sentence and consecutive jail terms for the offen­ces saying that it was in view of the public interest and seriousness of both offences. Judge Zulqarnain jailed Rafizi to 18 months for each charge and ordered both sentences to run concurrently.

The judge allowed a stay pending appeal but increased Rafizi's bail to RM5,000 from RM3,000.

Rafizi appeared calm and was seen busy reading and texting messages in his cell phone when the sentencing was passed.

Speaking to reporters later after posting his bail, Rafizi said it is a political case and would continue to do his job as a parliamentarian to the best of his ability.

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