A PAS election agent has been fined RM5,000 for locking nine ballot boxes after an advance voting session at an army camp in Port Dickson in the last general election.
A three-man Court of Appeal bench, led by Wira Mohtarudin Baki, in allowing the Election Commission’s (EC) appeal, said there was merit in the case.
The bench also increased the fine imposed on Azahari Ismail after a cross appeal by the public prosecutor.
“I hope this type of things will not happen again,” Mohtarudin said.
Azahari was charged under Section 3 (1) (i) of the Election Offences Act 1954.
The provision states that any person without due authority who destroys, takes, opens or otherwise interferes with any ballot box, ballot paper or packet of ballot papers in use, commits an offence.
He was charged with “interfering” by locking the ballot boxes at the army camp after the voting session on April 30, 2013.
Those found guilty can be jailed up to two years or fined a maximum RM2,000 or both.
Azahari was the agent for PAS candidate Ramli Ismail, who contested the Bagan Pinang state seat in Negri Sembilan.
That seat was eventually won by Hairudin Abu Bakar of the Barisan Nasional with a majority of 6,067 votes.
An unidentified election agent of Hairudin lodged a complaint to the EC over the locking of the ballot boxes.
Azahari, represented by Wan Rohimi Wan Daud, told the bench that locking the boxes could not be construed as interference.
“The election returning officer had consented to the act as he did not object to the locking of the ballot boxes,” he said.
Deputy public prosecutor Dhiya Syazwani Izyan Mohd Akhir said Azahari’s act was an interference in the vote-counting process.
Azahari was first sentenced to 10 months’ jail and fined RM4,000 by a magistrate after he was found guilty.
On appeal, the High Court in Seremban acquitted him.
Source : V Anbalagan@FMT Online