Malaysiakini’s chief executive officer Premesh Chandran was charged at the Kuala Lumpur Cyber Court today over the airing of an offensive video on the KiniTV website.
The news portal's editor-in-chief Steven Gan was also similarly charged in November last year. Both individuals claimed trial.
This is on the video of a press conference held by former Batu Kawan Umno division vice-chief Khairuddin Abu Hassan in July last year, titled "Khairuddin: Apandi Ali is not fit to be AG and he should quit immediately".
The video was uploaded onto both the English and Bahasa Malaysia sections of KiniTV on July 27.
Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission's head of prosecution Mohd Sophian Zakaria requested for the bail amount to be set at RM10,000 and for Premesh to give up his passport.
The prosecutor argued that Premesh, who is currently based in London on a sabbatical, is a flight risk.
However, lawyer Fahri Azzat submitted that Premesh had taken the trouble to return from London to be charged in court and he has already given his word that he will present himself in court.
Judge Zaman Mohd Noor ruled that only a personal bond is required and that there was no need for him to hand over his passport.
Premesh pleaded not guilty to the charges and claimed trial.
The next case management has been set for June 15, when the hearing dates will be fixed.
Malaysiakini's lawyers also intend to file a constitutional challenge against the charges in two weeks.
Premesh and Gan face two separate charges under Section 244(1) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA).
Section 244(1) holds directors and other senior officers of a company liable for offences committed by the company that is punishable under the CMA.
This is unless they can prove that the offence was committed without their knowledge or consent, or they have taken all reasonable precautions to prevent the commission of the offence.
The offence is punishable with a fine not exceeding RM50,000, or by imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both. An additional fine of RM1,000 per day is also imposed for each day the offence is continued upon conviction.
KiniTV Sdn Bhd was also charged under Section 233(1)(a) of the CMA, which criminalises the deliberate and improper use of network facilities for communications that are deemed offensive, false or obscene, among others. This offence also carries the same penalty upon conviction.