Irene Fernandez Freed

KUALA LUMPUR: Tenaganita Sdn Bhd director Irene Fernandez was acquitted after the High Court here today set aside her conviction and 12-month jail term for maliciously publishing false news in 1995.

Justice Datuk Mohamed Apandi Ali made the decision after the prosecution informed the court that it was not opposing Fernandez's appeal against conviction and sentence on the grounds that the appeal record was incomprehensible.

Deputy public prosecutor Shamsul Sulaiman told the court that the prosecution made the decision after taking into consideration that there was systemic error manifested on the record of the magistrates court's notes of proceedings.

"We have been recently served with the completed type-written record of proceeding notes in the magistrate's court and in the interest of justice, the prosecution decided that the record will not be served by opposing this appeal," he said.

"In light of the DPP not opposing, there is no necessity to deliberate further on this appeal. In such circumstances, I allow the appeal by the appellant, I hereby reverse the finding and sentence and acquit the appellant.

The conviction and sentence are set aside," ruled Justice Mohamed Apandi.

Fernandez's visibly happy family members and supporters clapped after the court made the ruling.

Fernandez, 62, was sentenced to 12 months jail by the Kuala Lumpur Magistrate's Court on Oct 16, 2003, for publishing a memorandum containing false news at the Tenaganita Sdn Bhd office at No. 28c, Lorong Bunus Enam, off Jalan Masjid India, on Aug 25, 1995.

She was said to have exposed the poor conditions at immigration detention centres in a memorandum entitled, "Abuse, Torture and Dehumanised Conditions of Migrant Workers in Detention Centres."

The hearing of her appeal had been postponed a few times due to incomplete record of appeal where it was reported that there were some missing notes of evidence of three material prosecution witnesses and a document in the case.

The record of appeal was finally compiled but certain notes of evidence were unclear.

Fernandez was represented by counsel M.Puravalen. (Bernama)

MySinchew 2008.11.24