KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court today dismissed human rights lawyer Eric Paulsen’s defamation suit against a Muslim activist on claims that he is an “instigator”.
Justice Zaki Abdul Wahad said the lawyer had proved his case against Pembela activist Mohamed Hafiz Mohamed Nordin as the statement referred to him.
“However, he failed to show that the statement uttered by Hafiz had lowered his reputation in society and that it caused the public to look down on him,” he said in his short oral judgment.
At the same time, the court also rejected Hafiz’s defence of fair comment and justification on the lawsuit, saying if Paulsen had proven his reputation was indeed tarnished, the court may award him damages.Justice Zaki also awarded costs of RM20,000 to Hafiz.
In an immediate response, fellow lawyer Latheefa Koya, who represented Paulsen, said they will appeal against today’s decision.
Lawyers Ahmad Kamal Abu Bakar and Arik Zakri Abdul Kadir represented Hafiz.
Paulsen’s defamation suit started when Muslim rights group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) sued him in 2015 for his allegation that it is an “extremist” group.
Paulsen had filed a counter claim in October the same year against Isma and also Hafiz for publishing an article, “Jangan biar Eric Paulsen bebas tanpa perbicaraan” (“Do not let Eric Paulsen free without a trial”) on their website for implying he is a liar and instigator.
Isma and Paulsen entered into a consent judgment in March last year, with both agreeing to withdraw the main suit and counter claim.
However, Paulsen’s suit against Hafiz proceeded for trial as the Islamic activist
did not agree to the terms of the settlement.