Keputusan penghakiman itu dibacakan Hakim Mahkamah Tinggi Kuala Lumpur, Datuk VT Singham di sini pagi ini.
Utusan didapati bersalah memfitnah Anwar kerana menuduh beliau menyokong pergerakan lesbian, gay, biseksual dan transeksual (LGBT).
Singham memutuskan artikel itu bersifat fitnah dan bertujuan menjatuhkan reputasi Anwar sebagai pemimpin politik.
Beliau berkata, keputusan itu dibuat kerana mengambil kira fakta dan bukti yang dibentangkan sepanjang perbicaraan, menunjukkan Utusan dipunyai oleh Umno.
Keputusan itu merujuk artikel bertajuk ‘Tolak Anwar-Hassan’ yang disiarkan muka depan akhbar kawalan Umno itu pada 17 Januari 2012.
Anwar memfailkan fitnah terhadap Utusan dan Ketua Pengarangnya, Datuk Abdul Aziz Ishak 20 Januari tahun lalu, yang didakwanya telah mencetak dan menerbitkan berita berhubung komen beliau bersama BBC mengenai undang-undang berkaitan dengan homoseksual.
“Mahkamah berpuas hati (dalam artikel tersebut) bahawa ini adalah fitnah kepada plaintif,” kata Singham.
Menurutnya, Utusan tidak mengamalkan kewartawanan yang bertanggungjawab.
Sedangkan katanya, defendan mempunyai peluang untuk membetulkan fakta selepas Anwar menghantar notis peguam untuk keterangan.
“Wartawan dan editor mempunyai hak untuk menyiarkan berita, tapi bukan fitnah, atau berita palsu,” tempelak Singham dalam penghakimannya.
Katanya, hakim memainkan peranan penting dalam memastikan kebebasan badan kehakiman.
“Keadilan perlu dilaksanakan tanpa dipengaruhi mana-mana pihak mahupun parti politik, semua keputusan perlulah selari dengan fakta yang dibentangkan,” jelas Singham.
Beliau mengarahkan Utusan membayar gantirugi kos sebanyak RM45,000 kepada Anwar manakala pampasan damage (teruk) ditetapkan ke satu tarikh kemudian.-keadilandaily
Court: Utusan defamed Anwar over LGBT remarks...
The Kuala Lumpur High Court today found Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd and its chief editor Abdul Aziz Ishak liable for defamation against Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.
Justice VT Singham in his ruling found that the page one and page 10 article published by the Umno-owned daily Utusan Malaysia on Jan 17, last year, damaging to Anwar's reputation and exposed the politician to ridicule and scorn.
The court fixed legal costs at RM45,000, while the amount of damages will be assessed on Feb 15.
Singham also took Utusan to task for failing to practise responsible journalism.
"Anwar's statement has been taken out of context by the daily, as in the BBC interview with the plaintiff it was crystal clear that he was not supportive that homosexual, lesbian and transgender activities should be legalised."
"The (Utusan) article published is incorrect, distorted and taken out of context, and it cannot be reconciled.
“The purpose the article published was to say Anwar is condoning it. The defendants have not acted professionally in publishing a correction when a legal letter (notice) is sent a week after the publication by Anwar's lawyers, and have ignored altogether to publish an apology," said the judge.
He said Utusan should have replied to the legal notice by coming with a proposal for Anwar to clarify the statements published in the articles, but instead the paper permitted the article to remain permanently.
"In conclusion, the court finds both articles defamatory. No publication should be used for political purpose to defame someone. It is an attack on the moral character of the plaintiff.”
Need for verification
The judge said Anwar's statement, when read as a whole, merely suggested the politician's view of the necessity of having to review the law on homosexuality in so far as to its harshness when innocent people are punished, and that this cannot be condoned and tolerated.
“The plaintiff did not say homosexuality should be legalised.
“The court finds that the articles, read as a whole, clearly supports in the natural and ordinary meaning of a right-thinking member of the society generally, that Anwar is inclined towards legalising gay, lesbian, homosexual and transgender activities, which is not true and is capable of a bearing of a defamatory imputation and is defamatory of the plaintiff,” he said.
He said Abdul Aziz could have checked the veracity of facts with Anwar on what was said during the latter’s BBC interview.
"It is not the job of the public or the reader to investigate. If they (Utusan) want to check, they can download the interview from the BBC website to check the veracity of the claim.”
In the articles in question, Utusan had published comments by former Selangor PAS commissioner Hasan Ali (above) on Anwar's interview with BBC, to which Justice Singham said, "Hasan's press conference was regarding his sacking as PAS Selangor commissioner. He is an aggrieved person in PAS, which is part of Pakatan Rakyat then”.
He said the daily should not have published the articles and that the plaintiff had proven that the publication was with malice.
‘Journalists, editors should take great care’
When reading out his two-hour long judgment, the judge also stressed that journalists and editors should also be careful with what they write so as not to include comment which may impugned someone.
“The press should have no greater power in impressing or misleading the minds of the people when compared to the reputation of an individual.
“It is essential that journalists, editors and publishers should take great care before any article which tends to harm the reputation of an individual is published. Reckless articles which contain insinuation or imputation without verification are to be avoided.”
Singham also touched on the expectation by the public who wants to see an independent judiciary in making decisions, and he pledged to uphold this constitutional right, in view of democracy practised in Malaysia.-malaysiakini.