Mohd Ezra acquitted of publishing book deemed against Islamic law

The Syariah Court today discharged and acquitted ZI Publications Sdn Bhd director Mohd Ezra Mohd Zaid on charges related to publishing a book seven years ago, deemed to be against Islamic law.

This follows the decision of Syariah Lower Court Judge Shukran Yusof to reject the prosecution’s application to grant Mohd Ezra a discharge not amounting to an acquittal.

Shukran said that after studying the oral and written submission of both prosecution and defence, he found that if the accused was granted a discharge not amounting to acquittal, it would turn into an academic issue.

“There is nothing that can be done by the prosecution for investigations and so on, because this case is not valid starting from the arrest. The Selangor Syariah prosecution chief’s decision to prosecute was quashed by the Court of Appeal, and any appeal to the Federal Court is no longer allowed.

“Hence, if I proceed with what is being applied for, then it will be pointless. Therefore, I discharge and acquit the accused,” he said.

Shukran said that the court, however, allowed the prosecution’s second application to forfeit 180 books entitled ‘Allah, Kebebasan dan Cinta’ from the accused or related parties, and to surrender them to the religious enforcement chief for further action.

Mohd Ezra was charged in the Lower Syariah Court here in 2013 in relation to the publication of the Canadian author Irshad Manji’s book of the same title.

On May 29, 2012, the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) raided ZI Publications’ office at B-2-19, Merchant Square, Jalan Tropicana Selatan 1, PJU 3 here and seized 180 copies of the books. Mohd Ezra was also arrested.

ZI Publications and Mohd Ezra then filed a judicial review application to challenge the raid carried out by JAIS. On March 7, 2018 the Kuala Lumpur High Court dismissed their application and they later brought the matter to the Court of Appeal.

On Sept 29, the Selangor syariah prosecution could not proceed with the case against Mohd Ezra. This followed the Federal Court’s refusal to grant leave against the Court of Appeal’s ruling quashing the Selangor Syariah prosecution chief’s decision to prosecute Mohd Ezra in the Shariah Court for the publication, distribution and possession of Irshad Manji’s book.

Shukran, in his ruling, also said that the court dismissed the prosecution’s application requesting an additional order for the accused or his agent to be barred from commenting on the case in any form of media.

“Referring to Article 10 of the Federal Constitution which touches on freedom of speech, as long as the statement has no defamatory element then it is allowed,” he said, and ordered Mohd Ezra’s bail of RM1,000 to be returned to him.

On Dec 9, the prosecution submitted an application, among others, for the accused to be granted a discharge not amounting to an acquittal on the charges, following the Federal Court’s decision in the civil case filed by Mohd Ezra in relation to the publication of the book.

Mohd Ezra when met by reporters after the proceedings, said he was happy because the case had been resolved.

“I am grateful to my lawyer in this case and I am relieved that this case has been resolved, but there is still one unfinished matter in the civil court for damages,” he said.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

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