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Raja Petra released; claims threatened by Sirul and Azilah.
PETALING JAYA (May 9, 2008): Malaysia-Today.net webmaster and blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin who was charged under the Sedition Act for a posting on his website an article titled “Let’s send the Altantuya murderers to hell” was released on bail on Friday, after spending three nights in prison.
Raja Petra, 58, who was arrested on Tuesday, said he was prepared to stay in prison until the trial fixed for Oct 6, but claimed that the prison authorities told him that they could not "guarantee his safety" in the Sungai Buloh prison. Chief Insp Azilah Hadri and Cpl Sirul Azhar Umar, who are now being tried for the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu, are also being incarcerated in the same prison. Political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, who was charged with abetting them, is being remanded there as well.
Met outside the Petaling Jaya sessions court, Raja Petra said: “They (prison authorities) received reports that when I entered prison, Azilah and Sirul shouted at me and threatened that something is going to happen to me inside there.
”He said the prison authorities were worried and detailed two police Special Action Unit (UTK) officers to "look after me".
Asked if he met Sirul and Azilah, Raja Petra said: “Ya! We were in the same block, the police block, which had about 18 policemen there all awaiting trial.”
“So anyhow, they saw me and they shouted at me and the prison guards were very worried, and they even shouted at the prison guard."
He claimed the prison guards told him: “So please, get out la, kita tak boleh tidur la (we won’t be able to sleep) because we have to watch out for you.”
Raja Petra added: “The prison authorities spoke to me and asked to allow my wife to bail me out because they say they cannot guarantee my safety in prison.”
He said the Sungai Buloh prison's condition was much better than when he was in solitary confinement under the Internal Security Act.
“But of course my home is still better la.”
He claimed that the prisons department said that there were 6,000 prisoners in Sungai Buloh and they cannot guarantee that any one of the 6,000 cannot be bought.
“I asked them what if I have to come back here in October. They said no la, you won’t be coming back here, you’ll go to Kajang if you have to come back in October,” said Raja Petra.
Asked if he was on a hunger strike as earlier reported, Raja Petra said: “I was not on hunger strike. I just refused to eat any food supplied by the prison. Why should I eat the prison food? The prison food is paid for by the rakyat and I don’t think the rakyat’s money is being well spent; so I refused to eat any food and since I can’t get any food from outside, I didn’t eat at all.”
He said he had not eaten since Monday, and the first thing he wanted to do was to eat and drink something because he was dehydrated.
Asked if he would be updating Malaysia-today he replied: “Maybe la, I’ll write another seditious article tomorrow.”
“Of course I’m going to continue. They can only hang you once.”
Bloggers who turned up to throw their support behind Raja Petra also printed 1,000 yellow T-shirts with the words “Justice for All…tantuya” (written in red) in the front together with a black and white picture of Raja Petra.
Raja Petra alighted from the Black Maria which brought him to the Petaling Jaya sessions court at 9.20am to cheers and claps from his friends and fellow bloggers including Haris Ibrahim who was detained for questioning last night during a candlelight vigil at Dataran Merdeka in support of Raja Petra.
Raja Petra’s wife Maria Lee Abdullah, who posted bail yesterday afternoon, was the first to greet him when he walked out of court.
Raja Petra out, explains U-turn on bail
May 9, 08 10:13am
News portal Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamarudin has been released on bail at 9.30am at the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court today. He claimed to have met two of the accused in the Altantuya Shaaribuu trial - Sirul Azhar Umar and Azilah Hadri - in Sungai Buloh prison where he was remanded since Tuesday.
Both of them shouted and threatened him and the prison authority was worried about his safety, he told reporters on being released.Since they couldn’t guarantee his safety, the authorities have asked him to post bail and he agreed. He also said that he did not go on hunger strike as reported earlier but had refused to eat food provided by the prison.
“The food is paid by rakyat (the people). I don’t think the rakyat money is being well spent,” he said.
A handcuffed Raja Petra was brought to the court from the prison at about 9.25am. He was wearing the same yellow long-sleeved shirt and jeans that he wore on the day he was charged. There were some 50 supporters waiting for his arrival at the court, who clapped their hands upon seeing him. He raised his hands to acknowledge them.
The supporters wore yellow T-shirt with Raja Petra's face and the words ‘Justice for all...tantuya' imprinted on it. Raja Petra, who has been charged for sedition, had opted to go to prison instead of paying the RM5,000 bail three days ago, which he said he could not afford.
Hearing has been fixed from Oct 6 to 10 and Raja Petra would have to remain in custody until the hearing date in five months' time should he decide not to post bail.
On Wednesday, he refused to meet everyone, including his wife, and was said to have gone on a hunger strike.
Marina had gone to the Sungai Buloh prison to meet her husband yesterday morning to ask him if he would want to post bail after having raised RM35,000 from well-wishers.
However, she was told by the prison warden that Raja Petra did not want to see anybody, including her, and had also refused to eat. Marina was finally able to meet her husband yesterday and was told he had agreed to post bail