KUALA TERENGGANU: Clare Rewcastle-Brown, the founder and editor of Sarawak Report, was sentenced to two years in prison by the Magistrate’s Court today after being found guilty of defamation against the Sultanah of Terengganu, Sultanah Nur Zahirah.
Magistrate Nik Mohd Tarmizie Nik Mohd Shukri ordered the prison sentence against Rewcastle-Brown, 64, to start from the date of her conviction, which is today.
He said after reviewing and evaluating the evidence, including the prosecution witness testimony and exhibits, and considering the arguments presented by the prosecution, the court concluded that a prima facie case had been successfully proven by the prosecution team.
“As the trial was conducted in absentia, the court hereby finds Rewcastle-Brown guilty and convicted as charged under Section 500 of the Penal Code, which is a two-year prison sentence from the date of conviction.
“A warrant of imprisonment will be issued for submission by the prosecution,“ said Nik Mohd Tarmizie.
According to the charges, Rewcastle-Brown, who has a London, United Kingdom address, wrote a book titled “The Sarawak Report – The Inside Story of 1MDB Expose” which contains accusations against the Sultanah of Terengganu.
The defamatory part that was underlined on page three, paragraph four, and line seven was “the wife of the Sultan”, knowing it would damage the name of Sultanah Nur Zahirah.
She was charged with committing the offence at 8 am, Sept 14, 2018, at Lot 60048, Taman Chendering Utama here.
The charge was framed under Section 500 of the Penal Code which provides for a prison sentence of up to two years or a fine or both, upon conviction.
State prosecution director, Engku Ahmad Rashidi Engku Abdillah, appeared for the prosecution, while the accused was absent.
The trial was conducted in absentia as per Section 425A of the Criminal Procedure Code.
On Sept 23, 2021, Rewcastle-Brown was charged at the Kuala Terengganu Magistrate’s Court in absentia, after which she applied to transfer the case to the Kuala Lumpur High Court.
However, on June 21, 2023, Kuala Lumpur High Court Judge, K. Muniandy dismissed the application.
On Oct 31, 2023, the High Court dismissed Sultanah Nur Zahirah’s suit against Rewcastle-Brown, Gerakbudaya Enterprise Chong Ton Sin (publisher), and Vinlin Press Sdn Bhd (printer).
On Dec 12, 2023, the Court of Appeal ordered Rewcastle-Brown and two others to pay RM300,000 in damages to Sultanah Nur Zahirah, after a three-judge panel comprising Judges Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail, Mohamed Zaini Mazlan, and Datuk Azhahari Kamal Ramli overturned the High Court’s decision.
Rewcastle-Brown, Chong, and Vinlin Press were also ordered to pay RM120,000 in costs to Sultanah Nur Zahirah. -Bernama