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Malaysia’s landmark stalking case kicks off as accused faces full trial

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 17 — In a groundbreaking legal development, Malaysia will witness its inaugural stalking case as 37-year-old Mohamad Safiq Rosli faces a trial after his guilty plea was rejected by Magistrate Sasha Diana Sabu during his arraignment last year.

Safiq, charged with stalking and sexually harassing local photographer Acacia Mardiana Daud for a decade, was supposed to be sentenced at the Magistrates’ Court in December 2023. However, his guilty plea rejection led to the scheduling of a full trial today.

Acacia shared her personal ordeal on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter) in July 2023, detailing how Safiq harassed her through various online channels, including Instagram.

He went as far as sending sexually explicit videos and even physically following her to the United Kingdom, where he joined a photography class she attended.

The situation escalated to the point where Safiq was arrested by UK police for stalking, prompting Acacia to make her case public. Despite multiple police reports and pleas to Safiq’s family for help, Safiq was unfazed and continued his harassment.

A new anti-stalking law that came into effect on March 29, 2023 when the Dewan Rakyat passed the Penal Code amendment required to make stalking an offence unanimously following two rounds of debate.

The Anti-stalking Bill was passed unanimously in October last year 2022 after then Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Ramkarpal Singh presented his case and addressed amendments recommendations in his winding-up speech.

Ramkarpal said that the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill 2023 debated aims to insert a new section 507(a) to provide for the offence of stalking, including acts that are considered an offence and to provide for a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment or a fine or both.

The law came into effect in March 29 last year.

Following that, on August 10, Safiq was charged at the Shah Alam Magistrates’ Court under this law. It makes stalking both physically and online a crime with a maximum penalty of up to three years in jail, a fine, or both.

Safiq, the first person charged with stalking under Section 507A, initially pleaded not guilty but later changed his plea to guilty on December 15. However, on the day of sentencing (December 19), his guilty plea was rejected, and he was ordered to face a full trial.

The court was told that three witnesses will be called for this one-day trial including Acacia who will attend proceedings online. Safiq’s defence lawyer Firthril Hakim Ab Jalil had told the court his client would plead insanity since the judge had rejected their guilty plea.

Deputy public prosecutor Zilfinaz Abbas however said she did not want Safiq to plead insanity and escape jail and a fine under Section 347 of the Criminal Procedure Code and pushed for the full trial.

Despite being offered bail at RM20,000, Safiq remains detained at Sungai Buloh Prison as his family was unable to post bail. The trial is set for January 17, 2024.

As of December 15, 2023 the police have investigated nine cases under the anti-stalking law according to Bukit Aman’s Sexual, Women, and Child Investigations Division (D11) principal assistant director Asst Comm Siti Kamsiah Hassan.

She said two out of the nine cases have been resolved, while the remaining seven are still pending.