The Sessions Court here today freed graphic artist Fahmi Reza Mohd Zarin from a charge in connection with a clown caricature of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. (NSTP Archive)

KUALA LUMPUR: The Sessions Court here today freed graphic artist Fahmi Reza Mohd Zarin from a charge in connection with a clown caricature of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Judge Zamri Bakar made the ruling after the prosecution, led by Deputy Public Prosecutor Noor Jazilah Mohd Yushaa, withdrew the charge against Fahmi, who was charged under the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998.

The prosecution applied to withdraw the charge under Section 254 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Fahmi was charged with creating false content on Instagram two years ago with the intention of annoying another person's feelings.

During the proceeding, Noor Jazilah told the court that lawyer Syahredzan Johan sent two attorney representation letters to withdraw the charge against Fahmi on June and July 17.

The Attorney General's Chambers, she said, accepted Syahredzan's request to withdraw the charge.

On June 6, 2016, Fahmi, then 39, pleaded not guilty to the charge.

He was accused of committing the offence at No. 35, Jalan BP 10/10, Bandar Bukit Puchong 2, Puchong at 6pm on Feb 1, 2016.

He was charged under Section 233(1)(a) of the CMA, which provides an imprisonment for up to a year or a RM50,000 fine or both upon conviction.

The trial, which began in June, saw the prosecution presenting three witnesses to testify.

“After more than two years of fighting this baseless prosecution and trial, finally I have been freed from charges under #AktaSakitHati in relation to the Najib clown face picture. The KL #clowntrial is finally over!

“This is a victory for freedom of expression and freedom of the people to criticise the powers-that-be through the weapons of art and satire,” Fahmi said in Facebook post today.

His controversial clown caricature is regarded as one of the main symbols of defiance against Najib and Barisan Nasional government, which lost the 14th General Election in May.

Fahmi was previously convicted by the Sessions Court in Ipoh of a similar offence. He was sentenced to one month in prison and a RM30,000 fine.

The court granted him a stay pending an appeal to the High Court in Ipoh, which is expected to reach a verdict at the end of the month.

Fahmi managed to raise the money to pay the fine through crowdfunding.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo in September said the CMA would be amended to tighten some of the legal provisions which are often deemed to be very broad.

The Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA) will be amended to tighten some of the legal provisions which are often deemed to be very broad.

However, PH had, in its election manifesto, pledged to repeal such laws.

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