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Court rules Sarawak Report editor's bid to challenge defamation charge premature
Published on: Friday, August 12, 2022
By: Bernama
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In September last year, Clare Rewcastle-Brown was charged with criminal defamation at a Kuala Terengganu Magistrates’ Court over the publication of a book, ‘The Sarawak Report: The Inside Story of the 1MDB Exposé’. (Malay Mail file pic)
Kuala Lumpur: The High Court today ruled that it is premature to refer to the Federal Court to determine the constitutionality of a criminal defamation charge framed against Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown.

As such, judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan said, he decided not to consider the merit of Rewcastle-Brown’s application to refer two questions of law to the Federal Court.

He said Rewcastle-Brown’s application to transfer her case from the Kuala Terengganu Magistrates’ Court to the Kuala Lumpur High Court had to be heard and disposed of first.

Rewcastle-Brown can make the application to refer the two questions of law, if her case is transferred to the High Court, he said, adding that the court had not decided whether to allow her application to transfer the case to the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

“In layman’s terms, the applicant’s application is still in transit. I am of the opinion that Section 84 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 (CJA 1964) would only apply if the proceedings concerned have been registered in the High Court,” he said.

In September last year, Rewcastle-Brown was charged with criminal defamation at a Kuala Terengganu Magistrates’ Court over the publication of a book, The Sarawak Report: The Inside Story of the 1MDB Exposé.

She then applied to transfer the case from the Kuala Terengganu Magistrates’ Court to the Kuala Lumpur High Court, which was set for hearing on March 29 2022.

However, the High Court fixed December 12 to hear the transfer application pending the hearing of Rewcastle-Brown’s request to refer the two questions of law to the Federal Court.

On November 21, 2018, Terengganu’s Sultanah Nur Zahirah filed a suit, naming Rewcastle-Brown, Gerakbudaya Enterprise publisher Chong Ton Sin and printing company, Vinlin Press Sdn Bhd, as the first to the third defendants, alleging that the first defendant made a disparaging statement about her in the book.

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