Fr Paulino Freed Again

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Fr Paulino with his counsel, Francis Pereira

Fr Paulino Miranda and 20 others were again freed on 27 March 2015 when the Court of Appeal struck off the prosecution’s appeal for failing to serve the Petition within time to their solicitors.

Rev Father Paulino Miranda was charged with 20 others that included Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua, Selangor DAP state assemblymen Lau Weng San and Tiew Way Keng for taking part in an alleged illegal assembly in front of the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) building on October 9, 2008 between 9pm and 10.10pm.

They were accused of refusing a police order to disperse under section 27(5)(a) and section 27(4) of the Police Act 1967. Section 27 has since been repealed and replaced by the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012.

All the 21 accused, whose ages ranged between 25 and 62, had pleaded not guilty to the charges. The  maximum fine under the said section 27 is up to RM10,000 or a maximum one-year jail term or both. The trial of the matter spanned over 25 days where the prosecution called 21 witnesses,. Sessions Court Judge Hayatul Akmal after hearing submissions from counsels had on 18th September 2013 ruled that the prosecution had failed to prove a prima facie case.

The prosecution appealed to the High Court against the Sessions Court's decision. On 5th June 2014, High Court Judicial Commissioner, Choong Siew Kim  dismissed the appeal and affirmed the Sessions Court's decision. Dissatisfied with the High Court decision, the prosecution appealed further to the Court of Appeal. The appeal before the Court of Appeal was scheduled for hearing on 27th March 2015. However the prosecution had failed to serve the Petition of appeal on the accused counsels on time. The Petition consists of the grounds of appeal which the prosecution seeks to rely on against the  High Court decision.

Moktharuddin Baki JCA the chairman of the corum declared that the decision is unanimous when striking out the appeal. Other members of the corum were Tengku Maimum JCA and Zakaria Sam JCA. Earlier, Gobind Singh Deo and Francis Pereira lead counsels for the accused raised the preliminary objection to the appeal that some of the solicitors for the accused were either not served or served with the Petition of Appeal just two days prior to the hearing of the appeal. This, they submitted were contrary to the directions made earlier by the Court of Appeal registrar. The prosecution conceded the delay and requested for the appeal to be adjourned to allow them to file for an extension of time to regularise the defect. Counsels for the accused objected, since the prosecution was notified of the defect and did not take any steps to remedy the defect.

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