The Sessions Court today sentenced Mohamed Azmin Ali, a former aide of jailed ex-deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, to 18 months in jail for perjury.
Azmin, 36, who is state assemblyman for Hulu Kelang, was charged under Section 193 of the Penal Code for making a false statement while testifying at Anwar's corruption trial on March 9, 1999 before High Court judge Augustine Paul.
Under the Constitution, a state assemblyman can be disqualified from being one if he is fined more than RM2,000 by a court of law or jailed for more than a year.
Azmin, who was Anwar's private secretary when the latter was deputy prime minister, was originally acquitted and discharged by Sessions Court judge Hamdan Indah on July 13, 1999.
However, High Court judge Abdul Wahab Patail later allowed an appeal by the prosecution on Feb 17 last year and ordered the case to be sent back to the Sessions Court for Azmin to enter his defence.
Justice Akhtar Tahir, who allowed Azmin a stay of execution pending his appeal to the High Court, said in his judgement perjury was a more serious offense when compared to giving false statement.
"Under the law, a person who gives a false statement to the authority can be jailed three to five years. However, a person convicted of perjury can be sentenced up to seven years. This is because a judge is dependent on a witnesses' testimony in making his decision," he said.
Akhtar added Azmin's conviction and sentence was a reminder to the public not to commit such crimes.
Azmin, who is on a RM20,000 bail, appeared calm when the sentence was read and managed to smile at his family. The court was packed with Azmin's family members and supporters as well as journalists.
During Anwar's corruption trial, Azmin had testified that he told a magistrate about threats made against him by the "brutal" police force and that he was forced to make a confession implicating the former deputy prime minister.
Subsequently, Azmin was tried in court as the prosecution argued there were discrepancies between his testimony in Anwar's trial and his complaint to the magistrate.
Justice Akhtar further said he could not agree with the defence that Azmin's health problems, age and family should serve as mitigating factors for the court to consider.
"He is a learned man and therefore he should have thought about the consequences before committing the offence," said Akhtar.
Azmin's counsel, CV Prabhakaran, later applied for the stay of execution. The prosecution did not object but asked the court to review the bail amount of RM10,000 based on the grounds that Azmin has already been convicted.
Akhtar raised the bail to RM20,000.
Prabhakaran was assisted by Rajiv Prabhakaran while Jagjit Singh Sira prosecuted.