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Ezam slapped with two-year jail term for violating OSA

updated version

Keadilan Youth chief Mohd Ezam Mohd Nor was sentenced to two years' jail by the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court today after being found guilty of committing an offence under the Official Secrets Act.

Sessions court judge Wan Afrah Wan Ismail said the punishment meted out was appropriate and in the interest of the public.

She added that Ezam's defence team, comprising Zainur Zakari and Raja Aziz Addrusse, failed to prove that the accused did not contravene the OSA.

"After hearing the evidence of the accused and the witnesses and the submission by the two parties the court finds that the accused failed to show reasonable doubt in his charges.

"The accused in his defence admitted to having a press conference on Nov 6, 1999 to expose the corruption and abuse of power by International Trade and Industry minister Rafidah Aziz and former Melaka chief minister Rahim Thamby Chik and he knew and was sure that those documents were official secrets but still took the risk," said the judge.

Ezam was charged under Section 8(1) of the OSA and carries a mandatory jail sentence of not less than one year and not more than seven. He is to serve the two-year sentence at the Kajang prison.

The Keadilan leader, who is currently undergoing a two-year Internal Security Act detention at the Kamunting Detention Centre in Perak, remained calm when the sentence was read out.

Ezam and five others were detained under the security law last year for allegedly planning to overthrow the government through militant means, a charge which they have denied.

Speaking to reporters later, the deputy public prosecutor Vong Poh Fah said Ezam will be sent to the Kajang prison to serve his sentence.

"As for his detention under the ISA in Kamunting, we are still awaiting instructions from the Home Ministry," said Vong.

At the end of the trial, Ezam was allowed to meet his family for an hour before being taken away. His children, Tihani, 9, Mohd Hasif, 5 and Mohd Haris, 4, held placards which read, "Our father is a hero and we love you".

Courtroom scuffle

Meanwhile, a scuffle erupted inside the courtroom between police personnel and Ezam's supporters when they attempted to hug him after the verdict was read.

Ezam's spectacles was broken in the commotion. However, no arrests were made.

The supporters also jeered at the judge calling her 'evil and unjust', and refused to stand when she entered and exited the room.

Earlier when mitigating the sentence, Vong said there had been no strong mitigation shown by Ezam's counsel and it was clear he had plans to expose the documents.

Ezam was alleged to have leaked the Anti-Corruption Agency's investigation papers regarding the two politicians during a press conference at the Keadilan headquarters in Menara Phileo Damansara. He claimed trial two months later on Jan 14, 2000.

"He was not repentant even in his testimony and took the opportunity to hurl accusations against certain quarters.

"As the leader of a political party he should have adhered to the laws of the country and thus should be given the harshest punishment," said Vong.

Ezam's counsel, Zainur replied that it was the responsibility of a good citizen to show the wrongdoing of the government.

"Also the information contained in the documents have already been debated in Parliament and were publicised in the press," he said.

Ezam to appeal

About 100-odd supporters gathered outside the courthouse and began chanting 'reformasi' and ' Allahuakhbar ' (God is great) when Ezam emerged from the building.

More than 50 Federal Reserve Unit and other police personnel stood watch while a water-cannon truck was also stationed nearby.

Also present at the hearing were Keadilan president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and other party leaders, DAP chairperson Lim Kit Siang and PAS leader Mohammad Sabu.

According to his lawyer, Ezam will file an appeal soon.