GEORGE TOWN: The Penang High Court will decide on Feb 22 whether the trial of Pas deputy president Mohamad Sabu, better known as Mat Sabu, charged with defaming Bukit Kepong policemen and their families, will proceed.
Judge Mohd Amin Firdaus Abdullah said the court needed time to decide whether to strike out the case as the matter involved technical issues.
Mat Sabu's defence team had, on Dec 12 last year, filed an application to the High Court to seek a declaration that the defamation charge against him was invalid on the grounds that the court was not the platform for matters related to history.
Mat Sabu's case was to be heard at the Butterworth Sessions Court from Dec 19 to 23.
His defence team, led by Muha-mmed Hanipa Maidin, argued yesterday that it was not the court's function to interpret and discuss history, even if the case involved criminal defamation.
He said the court would not be able to escape from debating historical facts if the trial was allowed to proceed.
"The Bukit Kepong tragedy was in 1950, even before Independence.
"The policemen were employed by the British government, while the question whether Mat Indera (who led the attacks on Bukit Kepong) was a hero or a communist depends on individual perception.
"The court is not the right platform to debate such matters. If the court makes a decision (on what is the right perception), then it will set a dangerous precedent."
Hanipa added that Mat Sabu had made the statement about Bukit Kepong in his political speech based on his own opinion.
Mat Sabu was charged with criminal defamation of Bukit Kepong policemen and their families, who were attacked by communists.
Mat Sabu allegedly committed the offence in Padang Menora in Tasek Gelugor on the mainland on Aug 21 last year during a ceramah.
Meanwhile, the prosecution argued that the court was not being told to determine historical facts, but to merely determine whether Mat Sabu's statements were defamatory in nature.
Deputy public prosecutor Yusaini Amer Abd Karim said should history became an issue in the case, it would be during the course of the trial and not before.
"Both sides would be able to present their own history experts and if Mat Sabu's statements were made without mala fide, then the hearing would be a good platform for him to tell the court his side."
"The High Court should not just strike out the case before it is even heard at the lower court."
Also present in court were Mat Sabu's other counsel Aminnudin Zulkifli and Nasar Khan while deputy public prosecutor Suhaimi Ibrahim appeared with Yusaini Amer.