JOHOR BARU: "We are disappointed, but we have to accept the court's decision to acquit Sam Ke Ting."
The parents of Mohamad Azrie Danish Zulkefli, one of the eight killed in "basikal lajak" tragedy, are hurt and disappointed but have come to terms with the Court of Appeal decision to acquit Sam.
Azrie's mother Fatimah Nasir, 49, said they were forced to accept the court's decision, even though it was painful and difficult.
"We are still haunted by the tragedy, although it's been six years since we lost Azrie," she said, adding that a mother would forever remember her son.
"We (the other victims' family members) had expected that Sam would be acquitted when the case was brought to the Court of Appeal. We are really disappointed, but we have to accept, stay calm and move on with life," she said when contacted.
Fatimah also addressed the public criticism that they had received.
"Whenever a child is involved, the parents are blamed. We were accused of neglecting our children, being irresponsible and were told that we were bad parents for not taking good care of them, because we allowed them to ride their modified bicycles on the main road in the wee hours of the morning.
"It's very hurtful, sad and annoying when people insult us as their parents. We are yet to recover from our loss, and these insults add salt to the wounds.
"We would have definitely stopped them if we knew they had sneaked out… show me any parent you know who would have allowed their children to cycle on a main road in the wee hours of the morning?
"This is our test from the Almighty, so we have to accept it," she added.
Her husband Zulkefli Sarkam, 49, said he and the rest of the families experienced prolonged grief and trauma every time the case was brought to court.
"I am sure sam has regrets and will also be haunted by this tragedy for the rest of her life. Let us and Sam deal with our emotions and move on," he said.
Earlier, the Court of Appeal allowed Sam's appeal to overturn the Johor High Court decision that convicted and sentenced her to six years' jail and a RM6,000 fine for causing the deaths of eight "basikal lajak" cyclists in Johor Baru six years ago.
A three-member bench comprising Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail, Datuk Hashim Hamzah and Datuk Azman Abdullah unanimously discharged and acquitted Sam today, after finding that the charge against her was defective and therefore illegal.
Sam was previously accused of crashing into and causing the deaths of Azrie, 14; Shahrul Izzwan Azzuraimie, 14; Firdauz Danish Mohd Azhar, 16; Fauzan Halmijan, 13; Azhar Amir, 16; Harith Iskandar Abdullah, 14; Shahrul Nizam Marudin, 14; and Haizad Kasrin, 16, on Feb 18, 2017.
Her charges, then, were framed under Section 41(1) of the Road Transport Act 1987 (Act 333), which carries a maximum jail term of 10 years and a fine of RM20,000 upon conviction.
The 28-year-old clerk was previously acquitted and discharged by the magistrate's court on Oct 28, 2019, at the end of the prosecution's case without her defence being called.
The prosecution appealed the magistrate's decision to the High Court, and on Feb 18, 2021, the Johor Baru High Court sent the case back to the magistrate's court, ordering Sam to enter her defence after allowing an appeal by the prosecution.
The magistrate's court acquitted Sam for a second time but an appeal was filed and the High Court overturned the ruling.