ASP: Blogger's house searched without warrant

By Tan Yi Liang, The Sun

Police carried out a search of blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin's Sungai Buloh house on May 2 without a search warrant, even though they had no reason to suspect that evidence in the sedition investigation would be destroyed, the sessions court was told today.

Questioned by defence counsel Gobind Singh Deo, Assistant Superintendent of Police Victor Sanjos, who led the search, said: "I did not need a search warrant as it was an investigation under the Sedition Act, and I had the power to make an investigation."

Gobind then tried to establish if Sanjos suspected that Raja Petra would destroy evidence required by the investigation.

"There was no reason for you to suspect that the evidence in this case would be destroyed. Do you agree?" asked Gobind, to which Sanjos replied, "I agree".

Gobind then cited Section 8 of the Sedition Act in his objection to the search, which netted Raja Petra's desktop CPU and his laptop.

He pointed out that the Act stated that a search could only be done if the officer had reason to suspect that the evidence might be destroyed.

"Whenever it appears to any police officer not below the rank of Assistant Superintendent that there is reasonable cause to believe that in any premises there is concealed or deposited any seditious publication, and he has reasonable grounds for believing that, by reason of the delay which would be entailed by obtaining a search warrant, the object of the search is likely to be frustrated, he may enter and search the premises as if he were empowered to do so by a warrant," Gobind read to the court.

However, Sanjos disagreed with Gobind that his search was done in breach of Section 8.

Gobind: Section 8 states that you need a warrant if you do not believe that evidence will be disposed of. You said you believed that the evidence will not be disposed. I put it to you that unless you have a reason to suspect or believe that case materials will be destroyed, you need a warrant. Do you agree?

Sanjos: I do not agree.

Gobind: I put it to you that the search you conducted was conducted recklessly?

Sanjos: I do not agree.

Gobind: I suggest that the search was done with complete disregard of the law, which requires a search warrant. Do you agree?

Sanjos: I do not agree.

Under re-examination by deputy public prosecutor Roslan Mat Nor, Sanjos cited "urgency" as the reason behind his search of Raja Petra's home without a warrant.

Roslan: Why do you not agree that you need a search warrant for this (search and seizure)?

Sanjos: Each case has an urgency, so I had to carry out my orders and duties quickly.

Sanjos was then asked by Roslan whether he was given a timeframe for investigations by his superior, Crime Investigation Department's Cyber and Multimedia Investigation Division assistant director ACP Mohd Kamarudin Md Din.

He replied: "No, other than it should be done quickly".

Sanjos was the prosecution's fourth witness in the sedition trial of Raja Petra who allegedly posted a seditious article titled "Let's send the Altantuya murderers to hell" on his blog on April 25 this year.

The third day of the trial which is being heard before Judge Rozina Ayob, saw a surprise visit by Parliamentary Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his wife, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Datin Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who spoke to Raja Petra during a 15-minute break.

The trial continues.

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