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IT officer freed on 'taking out GE13 ballot paper' charge

An information technology (IT) officer with the British Council in Kuala Lumpur was today acquitted and discharged by theMagistrate's Court in Kuantan of allegedly taking out a ballot paper from a polling station during the 13th general election (GE13), two years ago.

Mohd Fadhli Khaharuddin, 25, originally from Sungai Isap Damai, Kuantan, was freed of the charge after the court found the prosecution failed to prove a prima facie case against him. Fadhli was represented by Bastian Pius Vendargon.

On Sept 12, 2014, he was charged with taking out a ballot paper from the polling station at Sekolah Kebangsaan Sungai Isap on May 5, 2013.

The charge under Section 3(1)(h) of the Election Offences Act 1954 carries a fine not exceeding RM5,000 or up to two years' jail, or both, upon conviction.

Last Monday, Fadhli testified in court that he took out the unmarked ballot paper to prove to the police that he was allowed to vote twice.

Fadhli had voted for the first time in the morning and tried to vote again after the undelible ink marked on his finger disappeared.

Fadhli lodged a police report

"I did that because I was disappointed that the ink could easily be removed while the Election Commission had earlier informed that the ink mark would only disappear after three days," he said.

That made him go again to the same polling station and was given a ballot paper, but he did not mark it and gave it to the police on duty.

Fadhli then lodged a report at the Kuantan police station and was later charged with the offence of taking out the ballot paper from the polling station.

Deputy public prosecutor Maisarah Juhari said at the end of prosecution that the prosecution failed to raise a reasonable doubt when Fadhli admitted that his action was to prove weaknesses in the election system.

However, his counsel Vendargon said the Election Commission did not gazette the voting area boundary and this meant that his client was not out of the area when he took out the ballot paper.

Fadhli, when met by reporters later, said he felt relief after being acquitted and discharged, and would go on with his life as usual.

"I feel relief as I could clear my name from the negative perceptions of certain quarters after I was charged in court," said Fadhli, who was accompanied by a female German friend.

- Bernama