Malaysian activist guilty of airing documentary on Sri Lanka

Malaysian activist Lena Hendry was today found guilty of airing a documentary on the Sri Lankan civil war – No Fire Zone – which had not been approved by the Malaysian Censorship Board, malaysiakini.com reported.

Magistrate Mohd Rehan Mohd Aris said the defence had failed to raise reasonable doubt in the case against Hendry, a programme manager at NGO Pusat Komas.

He, however, set March 22 to deliver the sentence and requested for the defence lawyers to submit their written submission by March 1.

The Star reported that Hendry, 32, who stood expressionless in the dock upon hearing the verdict, said she was disappointed with the judgment.

“We will definitely appeal. No proof to convict me,” Hendry, who was accompanied by her lawyer New Sin Yew, told reporters Tuesday.

Her well-wishers, friends and supporters surrounded her after the judgment, and they hugged and consoled her.

A supporter of her was holding a placard saying “Human Rights Documentaries are not dangerous”.

One of those present in the public gallery was Ivy Josiah, who is Hakam’s (National Human Rights Society) exco member and former executive director of Women Aid Organisation.

Josiah said she was disappointed over the ruling, saying that “the film had been shown everywhere in the world.”

A High Court had on Sept 21, 2016 set aside an acquittal order against Hendry and ordered her to enter her defence over the charge.

In reversing her acquittal order, Judicial Commissioner Mohamad Shariff Abu Samah found that there was a prima facie case against Hendry.

Mohd Rehan had on March 10 last year acquitted Hendry after ruling that the prosecution had failed to prove the case against her at the end of their case.

A total of eight prosecution witnesses and three defence witnesses, including Hendry, had given sworn evidence in the trial.

Hendry, who was also the programme coordinator for a human rights group Pusat Komas, claimed trial in a magistrate’s court on Sept 19, 2013 to illegally screening the documentary “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka”.

The film directed by British national Callum Macrae explores the alleged oppression by the Sri Lankan government of Tamils in the island nation.

She was said to have committed the offence at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall at Jalan Maharajalela here at 9pm on July 3, 2013.

The charge under Section 6(1)(b) of the Film Censorship Act 2002 carries a jail term of up to three years or a fine of up to RM30,000 or both if convicted. DPP Nurakmal Farhan Aziz prosecuted the case. (Colombo Gazette)

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