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Court of Appeal upholds Lokman Adam's 1-month jail term for contempt

The sentence was handed down for contempt of court in having intimidated a witness in former prime minister Najib Razak's 1MDB trial.

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Former Umno Supreme Council member Lokman Noor Adam. Photo: Bernama
Former Umno Supreme Council member Lokman Noor Adam. Photo: Bernama

The Court of Appeal today upheld the one-month jail term imposed by a High Court on former Umno Supreme Council member Lokman Noor Adam for contempt of court in having intimidated a witness in former prime minister Najib Razak's 1MDB trial.

This followed a unanimous decision by a panel of three Court of Appeal judges, comprising Kamaludin Md Said, Che Mohd Ruzima Ghazali and Nordin Hassan, to dismiss Lokman’s appeal against the conviction and sentence handed down by the High Court.

On July 15 last year, High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah sentenced Lokman to one month in prison after finding him guilty of contempt of court for threatening a prosecution witness in the 1MDB case.

The witness was Najib's former special officer, Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin, who is also the main witness in the case.

However, the three-judge panel allowed the request by Lokman, represented by lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, to stay the execution of the prison sentence pending an appeal at the Federal Court.

Judge Che Mohd Ruzima, when reading out the court’s unanimous decision today, said the facts regarding the conduct that led to the action against Lokman were not disputed as they stemmed from a police report made by the appellant at 3.24pm on Sept 25, 2019, while a media statement was issued on the same day at 6.33pm.

He said the court had examined the police report and the transcript of the media statement and found that it could be classified as a major report under Section 107 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

"We are of the view that there is no error in the decision taken by the High Court in convicting the appellant of contempt of court. There are facts that show the appellant intended to make the police report and media statement.

"The court also found that there was no mistake in the decision made by the High Court judge when deciding that the appellant's actions had interfered with the administration of justice. Therefore, the court finds no merit in the appellant's appeal," said the judge.

On the prosecution's cross-appeal, Che Mohd Ruzima said there was no reasonable excuse for the court to interfere with the prison sentence handed down by the High Court judge.

"The judge had considered the offence committed, the seriousness of the offence and public interest when making the decision. Therefore, the (prison) sentence imposed on the appellant is appropriate and reasonable. The prosecution's appeal is dismissed," he added.

Deputy public prosecutor Mohd Dusuki Mokhtar appeared for the prosecution in today's proceedings.

On Oct 22, 2019, the High Court granted leave to then attorney-general Tommy Thomas to initiate committal proceedings against Lokman for contempt of court perpetrated on two occasions on Sept 25, 2019.

On Jan 14, 2020, Sequerah dismissed Lokman’s application to set aside the leave obtained by the attorney-general. Lokman also lost his two appeals at the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court to overturn the High Court’s ruling.
Thomas had initiated the committal proceeding against Lokman to seek an order for Lokman to be committed to prison or fined for his action.

According to Thomas, on Sept 25, 2019, Lokman uttered words in a video interview that constituted an express or implied threat against Amhari Efendi for having given evidence in the former prime minister’s trial at the High Court.

Thomas said that on the same day, Lokman lodged a police report against Amhari Efendi in respect of the evidence given by him at the trial.

He said the objective or purpose of Lokman’s act was to harass and intimidate Amhari Efendi, other witnesses and any potential witnesses who might come forward to give evidence against Najib in the 1MDB trial.

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