Politician Khairuddin Abu Hassan was awarded RM300,000 in damages by the High Court today for his unlawful detention seven years ago.
High Court judge Quay Chew Soon allowed Khairuddin’s suit against former inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar, former attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali and six other individuals over his detention under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma).
"I allow the plaintiff's claim for unlawful detention and award damages of RM300,000. But I dismiss the plaintiff's claim of malicious prosecution," Quay said in delivering today’s decision.
Lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla represented Khairuddin as the plaintiff, while senior federal counsel Andi Razalijaya A Dadi appeared for the eight defendants.
Besides Khalid and Apandi, the six others named as defendants were ASP Wan Aeidil Wan Abdullah and ASP C Muniandy, both investigating officers at the Bukit Aman Classified Crime Investigation Unit; Dang Wangi deputy police chief Supt Habibi Majinji, deputy public prosecutor Masri Mohd Daud, senior federal counsel Awang Armadajaya Awang Mahmud and the government of Malaysia.
Khairuddin, who filed the suit in May 2018, claimed he was detained by the authorities on Sept 18, 2015 under Section 124C of the Penal Code and on Sept 23 the same year.
After being released, he was rearrested under Sosma and remained in custody before being charged in the Magistrate's Court under Section 124L of the same act with attempting to sabotage the country’s banking and financial services.
The court also ordered the defendants to pay Khairuddin costs of RM50,000.
Quay in his judgment said the defendants had unlawfully arrested and detained the plaintiff under Sosma.
For the first arrest for six days from Sept 18 to Sept 23, 2015, under Section 124C, the defendants contended that the existence of the complainant's police report by itself was sufficient evidence that the requirement for arrest had been met, with which the judge disagreed.
"The test to determine if an arrest is warranted depends on whether the defendants had ‘credible information’ or ‘reasonable suspicion’ in causing the arrest at the material time.
"Based on the complainant's police report, I do not see any material that warrants such arrest against Khairuddin for an offence under Section 124C, namely, with regards to ‘an activity detrimental to parliamentary democracy’ or any act preparatory thereto," said the judge.
Quay said this was fortified by the subsequent action of the defendants in deciding not to proceed with charging the plaintiff under Section 124C of the Penal Code.
For the second arrest for 56 days under Sections 124K or 124L of the Penal Code, the judge found that the defendants had unlawfully arrested and detained Khairuddin under Sosma as he was not investigated for an offence which falls within the ambit of the act.
"The defendants’ witnesses throughout the trial failed to justify the reason why Khairuddin had to be arrested and remanded under Sosma. The defendants’ witnesses failed to give evidence in court as to the reason the plaintiff had to be investigated for an offence under Sections 124K or 124L," he said.
On the plaintiff's claim of malicious prosecution, the judge ruled that Khairuddin had failed to prove, on a balance of probabilities, malice on the part of the defendants.
"According to the plaintiff, the prosecution against him was made solely to abet and provide fraudulent assistance to Najib Razak, the then prime minister, finance minister and chairman of 1MDB, and solely for the purpose of safeguarding the interests of Najib," he said.
"The plaintiff has not shown that the sole or dominant purpose actuating the prosecution against him was to cover up the activities of Najib. Notably, Najib is not a party to the suit."
The judge said overall, the evidence adduced by the plaintiff did not prove malice on the part of the defendants.
"I accept that the defendants did not have reasonable and probable cause.
"However, I do not accept that the defendants were actuated by malice, in the sense that they had a motive other than to bring an offender to justice and thereby aid in the enforcement of the law," he said.
Meanwhile, Khairuddin in a statement said he was happy and grateful for the court’s decision today.
"Justice has prevailed and proven that there was truth in my reports of the 1MDB scandals in Singapore, Hong Kong, France, UK and the US," he said, adding that he would file an appeal on the amount of damages awarded.