The Sessions Court today allowed an application by PAS President Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang to set aside a default judgement against him for blasphemy by a Christian Sabahan lawyer.
Judge Noor Hafizah Mohd Salim in court today ruled in favour of Hadi after hearing arguments from both sides but did not give grounds for her judgement. No costs were awarded in this case.
Lawyer Marcel Jude Joseph who had on August 12 won the suit said that that while he does not agree with the verdict, he accepted the court’s decision and was grateful that the court did not allow the costs of RM20,000 claimed against him.
“As a Christian, I forgive Hadi for his erroneous and false comments but that does not mean I am backing down from my civil rights in this matter because this kind of Christian bashing or the faiths of all other religions must not be tolerated,” he said.
Hadi Awang was represented by Hamid Ismail while Marcel was represented by counsel Nurul Rafeeqa Abdul Muntalip.
On August 12, the Sabah Sessions Court ruled in favour of Marcel who had sued Hadi for allegedly making negative remarks in an article titled “Christianity rejected by the educated, says Hadi” published on January 18 in the Free Malaysia Todaynews portal.
Marcel, 54, won the judgment in default when Hadi failed to show up in court. The Sessions Court also ruled that Hadi must pay the Christian lawyer damages for interfering with his constitutional right to freedom of religion under Article 11 of the Federal Constitution.
On August 30, Hadi, through lawyer Hamid, filed a court application to set aside the judgment against him, citing, as among the reasons, invalidity as it was filed in a non-rightful court, was wrongly addressed and had exceeded the time limit for filing.
Marcel said that the setting aside of the default judgement would mean a full trial which the court has yet to determine.
“The matter will now proceed for trial. I look forward to the trial of this matter to protect the Constitutional rights of all Sabahans and Malaysians to freedom of religion and the protection against blasphemy,” he said.
Hamid, however, said a trial was not possible as the court had struck off the civil suit on July 28 because its writ of summons had expired on July 26 this year and no renewal of it had been filed.
“I’m surprised he said there would be a trial as the court had struck off the suit. That was the main ground for me to ask for the court to set aside the default judgement,” he said when contacted.
Marcel denied this and said he would wait for the court decision.
Source : JULIA CHAN@The Malay Mail Online