Sarawak Report editor charged with criminal defamation of Terengganu Sultanah in 1MDB book

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Editor of Sarawak Report, Clare Rewcastle-Brown, leaves the High Court in Kuala Lumpur August 10, 2018. — Picture by Azneal Ishak
Editor of Sarawak Report, Clare Rewcastle-Brown, leaves the High Court in Kuala Lumpur August 10, 2018. — Picture by Azneal Ishak

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 23 — Sarawak Report’s editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown was charged in absentia in the Terengganu state capital of Kuala Terengganu today with allegedly criminally defaming the Terengganu Sultanah through contents of a book on the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.

Malay Mail understands that Rewcastle-Brown was not present in court, and that she was also not represented in court today.

Under the charge under Section 500 of the Penal Code, Rewcastle-Brown was accused of having defamed the Terengganu Sultanah, through a line in page three of Rewcastle-Brown’s book The Sarawak Report: The Inside Story of the 1MDB Exposé that had mentioned “the wife of the Sultan”.

According to Section 500, the punishment for criminal defamation is a prison term of up to two years or fine, or both upon conviction.

The prosecution was conducted by Terengganu state prosecution director Engku Ahmad Rashdi Engku Abdillah, deputy public prosecutors Noor Haslinda Che Seman and Nadia Zulkefli.

This criminal case before Magistrate Nordiana Abd Aziz is scheduled for mention again on November 23.

Separately, the Terengganu Sultanah had previously on November 21, 2018 filed a defamation lawsuit in the High Court in Kuala Lumpur against Rewcastle-Brown, the latter’s book publisher Gerakbudaya Enterprise and printer, Vinlin Press Sdn Bhd over the same book.

Suing over the contents in a paragraph of page three of the book, the Terengganu Sultanah had in that civil lawsuit claimed for RM100 million as compensation from each of the three defendants, and had also sought court orders for the book to be withdrawn and for its printing to cease.

The defamation lawsuit is expected to be heard on December 16, 17, 20 and 21 at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur, where four witnesses including the Terengganu Sultanah herself are expected to testify against Rewcastle-Brown and the two others.

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