Court awards businessman half a million ringgit over unlawful seizure of cigarettes

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SHAH ALAM (Nov 14): The Customs Department was today ordered by the High Court to pay more than half a million ringgit to a cigarette importer for unlawfully seizing his stock of cigarettes.  

Roslan Abu Bakar, the owner of Ramunas Sdn Bhd, was awarded RM 473,120 for the value of the goods seized, and another RM 50,000 in general damages.

Judge Datuk Wan Afrah Wan Ibrahim also ordered that Roslan be paid 5% interest on the amount with effect from the date of filling his suit, as well as costs totaling RM20,000.  

Roslan, 50, filed his suit on Nov 23, 2010, against Customs raiding officer Kamaruddin Jusoh, investigating officer Mohd Sukri Jusoh, senior assistant director Mohamad Sapian Sanusi, and director-general Datuk Seri Khazali Ahmad. Also named as a defendant was the federal government.

In his statement of claim, he said Ramunas had been given a licence by the Customs director-general to import kretek cigarettes from Indonesia via Port Klang, to be sold in Thailand.

But on Sept 24, 2010, Mohd Sukri sealed his business premises and seized among other things, sample cigarettes and several documents, without a legitimate search warrant or notice, he said.  

Roslan sought a declaration that the act of sealing 19,507 cartons of cigarettes in Port Klang was beyond the Free Zone Act and Customs Act, and was therefore invalid.

He also sought RM14.47 million as compensation for contract cancellations, due to the seizure of the cigarettes and exemplary damages for abuse of power.  

He also sought a declaration that the act of sealing Ramunas’ business premises in Subang Jaya, was unlawful.  

On Aug 29, Justice Wan Arfah ruled that the seizure of the cigarettes and sealing of the office, was unlawful.

Roslan was represented by lawyer R Ravendren, while senior federal counsel Andi Razalijaya A Dadi appeared for the defendants today.

Ravendran said the defendants wished to appeal the decision.