The Sessions Court here issued a warrant of arrest against Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamarudin on Thursday after he failed to turn up for his sedition trial.
His lawyer J. Chandra informed judge Rozina Ayob that his client did not turn up in court on the grounds he is on a self-imposed exile from the state for “reasons that are well known.”
“You know these ‘well known reasons,’ so please highlight them to the court,” Rozina said.
“The accused is posting his reasons on his website this morning,” said Chandra.
“You expect the court to go through that, is it?” the judge said.
Chandra then went out to explain that for over a month now, Raja Petra, 58, has posted articles or comments on issues in relation to the Selangor royal house that have angered some members of his own family who have demanded an apology.
On Malaysia Today, explaining why he did not attend court Thursday, Raja Petra wrote, “My family then gave me an ultimatum. I was to either make that public apology or else my family would insert an advertisement in the mainstream newspapers practically distancing itself from me, which could be interpreted as disowning me ….
“I went into exile outside Selangor … . It has to be noted that this has always been the punishment for any member of the Selangor Royal Family who is considered durhaka (traitorous) since the beginning of the Selangor Sultanate more than 250 years ago.”
He also wrote that another reason why he did not attend court was the he did not expect to get a fair trial.
In court on Thursday, his lawyer Chandra added, “You have to bear in mind that he is a member of royalty and this self-imposed exile is a punishment he has handed out to himself.”
His wife Marina Lee, who is also his bailor, was also absent.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Shahidani Aziz asked for a warrant of arrest to be issued against Raja Petra and a notice of showcause for his wife and bailor Marina. The judge granted both and set May 22 for mention.
Raja Petra, a former Internal Security Act detainee, had on May 6 2008 claimed trial to publishing a seditious article on his Malaysia Today news portal on April 25 of that same year.
He is accused of publishing the article Let’s send the Altantuya murderers to hell on the website http://www.malaysia-today.net.
The charge under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act 1948 carries a maximum fine of RM5,000 or three years’ jail or both upon conviction.