Kassim Ahmad Finally Free
Following a protracted legal battle, the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Affairs Department (JAWI) has finally dropped the case against Malay scholar Kassim Ahmad.
In March 2014, Kassim was arrested by JAWI in his resident state of Kedah and charged in the Syariah Court in Putrajaya with insulting Islam and violating a Federal Territories fatwa. Kassim’s lawyers launched a judicial review to challenge JAWI’s actions by naming the Minister of Religious Affairs, JAWI, the Chief Syariah Prosecutor and the government of Malaysia as respondents.
On 21 December 2015, the Court of Appeal declared that Kassim’s arrest and prosecution were unlawful, and ordered that costs and damages be paid to Kassim. However, the Chief Syariah Prosecutor refused to release Kassim and proceeded to appeal to the Federal Court. On 7 March 2017, the Federal Court unanimously dismissed the respondents’ application for leave to appeal.
Yesterday,, on 7 August 2017, the Syariah prosecutors argued that they could not release Kassim as that is the sole power of the Chief Syariah Prosecutor, a post that has now fallen vacant. The Syariah High Court agreed with Kassim’s counsel, Rosli Dahlan, that the absence of a Chief Syariah Prosecutor could not be a reason for not releasing Kassim.
Rosli also pointed out that their persistence and delay in releasing Kassim was in contempt of the Court of Appeal and Federal Court’s rulings in the octogenarian’s favour. Kassim was fully discharged and acquitted, and his three bailors released.
8 August 2017