The Court of Appeal's decision to set aside a five -year jail term imposed on a national tenpin bowling ace for statutory rape may paint the picture that the rich and famous "can get away with crime, fears a parliamentarian.
It is as if "the scales of justice are tilted more in the favour of the famous, wealthy and connected", said Teluk Intan DAP MP M Manogaran (left) in a statement today.
As reported by national news agency Bernama yesterday, Noor Afizal Azizan escaped jail when the Appeallate Court allowed his appeal to restore the decision of a Sessions Court which bound him over for good behaviour for five years, in a sum of RM25,000 for statutory rape.
The three-member bench led by Court of Appeal president Raus Md Sharif unanimously set aside the five-year jail term imposed on Noor Afizal by the Malacca High Court in allowing the prosecution's appeal for an enhanced sentence.
Raus, in his decision, agreed with counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik that public interest would not be served if Noor Afizal was sent to jail as he had a bright future.
Open season for rapists?
The Sessions Court, in binding him over, considered several factors, including consensual sexual relationship between him and the girl.
Such reasoning, posited the MP is unacceptable as it opens the gates to those with a bright future to engage in rape at will even with minors.
"Did they consider the girl's future?" he asked.
Manogaran warned the Federal Court and Attorney-General's Chambers to take serious notice as the decision may send the wrong signals to the public that:
- Certain members of the public can get away with crime if they are popular, famous, public figures or celebrities;
- Our system of sentencing is inconsistent as the decision flies in the face of the norm;
- Children, especially girls, are not protected by the law;
- Our prosecutors are incapable of securing proper convictions and sentences;
- The scale of justice are tilted towards those who are famous, wealthy and connected; and,
- Consensual sexual relationships with minors are condoned by the law.
At a time when sexual crimes are rising, Manogaran wondered why the courts would temper justice with mercy on the offender when a clearer message should have been sent as deterrent.
Noor Afizal's ‘light' sentence has drawn widespread criticism from the public when it was made known.