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Malaysian opposition leader convicted of treason

Kuala Lumpur - A Malaysian court on Friday convicted an opposition leader of sedition for questioning the decision of an eastern state ruler five years ago.

Kuala Lumpur High Court Judge Azman Abdullah found Karpal Singh, chairman of the opposition Democratic Action Party, guilty under the 1948 Sedition Law, enacted by the former British colonial administration.

The case stemmed from a press conference involving Karpal, 73, in February 2009, in which he said Sultan Azlan Shah’s decision to sack a chief minister could be argued in the court of law.

The controversial law criminalizes speech that would bring hatred or contempt or excite disaffection against the government and rulers, or engender feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races in Malaysia.

Karpal’s defence team said their client was merely offering a legal opinion.

Conviction under the act carries a maximum penalty of up to three years imprisonment or fine of 5,000 ringgit (1,515 dollars) or both. Azman set the sentencing for March 7.

Karpal said he would appeal the verdict.

Local and international human rights groups have urged the government to repeal the law, which they say is aimed at stifling dissent.

DPA


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