IPOH, Nov 30 ― A medical graduate charged with desecrating a Hindu temple escaped imprisonment after the Sessions Court acquitted him today, on grounds of insanity.
Fathi Munzir Nadzri, 29, was accused of damaging several idols at the Sree Muneeswaran Aman Temple along Jalan Hospital here, at around 5pm on April 24.
Sessions Court judge Ikmal Hishan Mohd Tajuddin ruled that Fathi Munzir had committed the act but released the accused after insanity was proven.
Ikmal Hishan said the court accepted the expert testimony of Hospital Bahagia Ulu Kinta forensic psychiatrist consultant Datuk Dr Suarn Singh who stated that Fathi Munzir suffered from a bipolar effective disorder with psychiatric features in the manic phase.
Dr Suarn testified that Fathi Munzir had a “flight of ideas” about religious issues and suffered from the delusion that God had given him the power to save Islam.
Taking this into consideration, the judge released the accused with a warning, as provided in Section 348 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
“The court is satisfied that the accused was of unsound mind at the time of the incident. Due to this condition, he was also not aware that his acts (of damaging the idols) broke the law,” he said.
“After receiving treatment and rehabilitation, the psychiatric expert recommended that the accused's condition did not require him to be placed at a mental hospital.
“As this opinion was not disputed by other experts, the court accepts this.”
Dressed in a red chequered shirt and black slacks, the former Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun trainee struck a calm stance throughout the proceeding.
He was accompanied by his father, former Manjoi assemblyman Datuk Nadzri Ismail.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Fadhli Ab Wahab appeared for the prosecution while the defence was represented by Tun Mohamad Ammar Aziz.
Fathi Munzir was charged with injuring or defiling a place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class under Section 295 of the Penal Code which carries a maximum two years’ jail term, a fine, or both.
He was also charged of having a machete in his possession at the time of the incident under Section 6(1) of the Corrosive and Explosive Substances and Offensive Weapons Act 1958, which carries a maximum of 10 years jail and whipping upon conviction.
However, Ikmal Hishan also acquitted Fathi Munzir of this charge, as the prosecution failed to prove that he had a machete in his possession during the incident.
This was after a witness testified that he did not see a machete in the accused's hand and the fact that a machete was not found in the accused's possession or his vehicle when he was detained by police.
Temple president A. Silvanathan, who was present at court for a watching brief, urged the public to accept the decision.
“The due legal process was carried out. For us, the decision represents closure and we believe in forgiveness. As Mahatma Gandhi said, an eye for an eye makes the world blind.
“I thank all our supporters for standing by us and I hope the Hindu community can put this incident behind us and move forward,” he said.