Wrongful prosecution: Assessment of damages for Mohd Ezra resolved, says lawyer

Wrongful prosecution: Assessment of damages for Mohd Ezra resolved, says lawyer
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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 13): ZI Publications Sdn Bhd director Mohd Ezra Mohd Zaid (pictured) and the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS), as well as five others, have reached an agreement on the assessment of damages for him for wrongful prosecution by the Selangor Chief Syarie Prosecutor in 2013.

His lawyer, Fahri Azzat, told this to reporters when contacted after the online proceedings via Zoom before High Court Judge Datuk Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid on Thursday (Jan 13).

All parties agreed to settle the claim (assessment), but the terms of the settlement contained in the consent judgment could not be disclosed, he added.

On May 29, 2012, JAIS raided the business premises of ZI Publications and confiscated 180 books entitled Allah, Freedom and Love written by Canadian, Irshad Manji. Mohd Ezra was also arrested.

ZI Publications and Mohd Ezra then filed a judicial review application to challenge the raid carried out by JAIS.

On March 7, 2018, the Kuala Lumpur High Court dismissed their application and they later brought the matter to the Court of Appeal (COA).

On Sept 25, 2019, Mohd Ezra succeeded in his bid at the COA to prevent the Selangor Syariah prosecution from proceeding with its case against him for the publication, distribution and possession of Manji’s book, which was deemed to be against Islamic law. 

On Sept 29, the Federal Court dismissed a leave application to appeal by JAIS and four others against the COA’s ruling.

In allowing his appeal, the court granted him a certiorari order quashing his arrest and prosecution by the Selangor Syariah prosecution chief, besides costs and damages for mental distress, agony and torture as a result of JAIS' wrongful action against him. 

The apex court also ordered the matter to be remitted to the High Court for assessment of damages.

On Dec 17, 2020, the Syariah Court discharged and acquitted Mohd Ezra on charges related to publishing a book which was deemed to be against Islamic law.

He was charged in the Lower Syariah Court in 2013 in relation to the publication of Manji’s book of the same title.