Crime & Courts

School principal walks free from sexual assault charges [NSTTV]

BUTTERWORTH: A school principal, charged with four counts of committing physical sexual assault on four male students four years ago, was freed by the Sessions Court here today without his defence being called.

Judge Noor Aini Yusof, in acquitting and discharging Zainuren Mohamed, 59, said the prosecution had failed to prove a prima facie case against the accused.

In her judgment, Noor Aini said there were contradictions in the evidence given by the mother of one of the victims and the victim himself.

She also said that there were contradictions in the evidence given by two teachers who were called to the stand and the other prosecution witnesses.

"Also, one of the witness — the first person who brought up this allegation — was not called to testify.

"Because of the loopholes in his case, the court concludes that if the accused chooses to remain silent even if his defence is called, it is not safe for the court to convict the accused based on the available prosecution evidence in court," she said today.

During the course of the trial, a total nine prosecution witnesses were called to testify.

Zainuren was represented by counsels E. Gnasegaran, Audrey Wee and S. Vickneshwaran while Deputy Public Prosecutor Muhamad Syeqal Che Murat prosecuted.

In January 2019, Zainuren pleaded not guilty in four separate Sessions Courts here to four counts of committing physical sexual assault on four male students, aged between 11 and 14, at a school in Permatang Tok Jaya here between April 16 and Oct 10, 2018.

He was charged under Section 14 (a) of the Sexual Offences against Children Act 2017.

Outside the court, Gnasegaran told newsmen that his client was happy, now that his name has been cleared from the allegations.

"In fact, the court, in a brief ground just now, said there was a serious credibility issue among the key witnesses who gave evidence, who included the victim, the mother of the victim and the teachers who gave evidence as well as the failure to call one of the victims to court.

"These are the grounds that the court said was not safe to call for defence. If the accused remained silent, he could not be convicted on this suspicious evidence.

"Also, there was an allegation at the time of his arrest that there was sodomy and it was proven to be untrue in court. There was no such thing. The victim agreed there was no such allegation.

"We also managed to show to the court that there was a motive. There was an incident of bullying in the school just prior to the case against my client. It had been agreed by the victim that students were beaten up in the hostel by one of the teachers who gave evidence, and action had been taken against the teacher and the victim by my client. Hence, because of the action, there was instigation to come out with this allegation," he said.

Meanwhile, Zainuren said he was grateful that he has been cleared of the allegations.

"I want to thank my lawyers for having defended me.

"I also want to thank my wife for her undivided support from the very beginning although there were attempts to shame and disgrace me.

"I am also thankful to the teachers who came to my support. Thank you all. Alhamdullilah," said an emotionally choked Zainuren.

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