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No palace interference, prosecution assures in defamation trial of Sarawak Report editor

Deputy public prosecutor Noor Haslinda Che Seman says the prosecution will ensure Clare Rewcastle-Brown gets a fair trial before the Kuala Terengganu Magistrate's Court.

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Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown. Photo: AFP
Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown. Photo: AFP

The Kuala Lumpur High Court was told yesterday that Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown, who is facing a charge of defaming the Sultanah of Terengganu Sultanah Nur Zahirah, will get a fair trial if the case is heard at the Kuala Terengganu Magistrate's Court.

Deputy public prosecutor Noor Haslinda Che Seman said this is because, throughout the prosecution process, there has been no interference from the (Terengganu) palace.

She said the court officials appointed in the case will also carry out their duties in a just and fair manner, regardless of whether the case involves the palace or simply a case of public interest.

"There was no conclusive evidence presented by the applicant (Rewcastle-Brown) showing that the Magistrate's Court would act unfairly in the trial of the case.

"I believe the credibility of the trial judge should not be disputed as it will lead to contempt of court. I ask for the court to reject the applicant’s application," she said in her submission against Rewcastle-Brown's application to transfer the criminal case from Kuala Terengganu Magistrate's Court to the High Court here.
In September 2021, Rewcastle-Brown, who is from the UK, was charged in absentia at the Kuala Terengganu Magistrate's Court for criminal defamation under Section 500 of the Penal Code which carries a jail term of up to two years or a fine or both, if convicted.

She was alleged to have defamed Sultanah Nur Zahirah in a book titled "The Sarawak Report - The Inside Story of the 1MDB Expose".

Meanwhile, lawyer Guok Ngek Seong representing Rewcastle-Brown said his client applied to transfer her case to the Kuala Lumpur High Court for fear of possible bias in the trial.

"The applicant is not questioning the integrity of the lower court but she is probably worried about not getting a fair trial because the Magistrate's Court is in the same state (Terengganu) and a police report was made against him by the (Terengganu) palace," the lawyer said.

Judge K Muniandy set June 21 to decide on the transfer application.