Kuala Lumpur: Interview Ahmad Abd Jalil, charged with insulting the Johor sultan via Facebook postings, was kept in solitary confinement for seven days while in remand in the Johor Bahru police station.
In an interview with Malaysiakini today, Ahmad related his experiences while in detention, describing his tiny cell as extremely warm, with no fan for ventilation apart from a small window, high up near the ceiling.
All the time he was in the cell, Ahmad did not see or meet anyone, except for the police personnel who "escorted" him to the toilet whenever the need arose to ease himself.
"It was too hot that I could not even sleep. There were 12 units in all, but no one could hear or see each other. I could not see a soul, a bird or even a tree," the 27-year-old newly married quantity surveyor said.
"Every day, I pleaded to see my family and lawyer but they did not allow that."
On Thursday, Ahmad was released on a RM10,000 bail after being charged under the Communications and Multimedia Act.
Ahmad, whose family hails from Penang, said he had to endure two sessions of about eight to 10 hours of intense interrogation daily.
The sessions started with questions focusing on his personal life, his family and friends and later venturing into far-fetched insinuations.
The police queried him about the reasons behind his so-called anger at the Johor ruler and at some point had even tried to extract a confession from him, he alleged.
"I asked them 'angry about what?'. When they knew I was not going to tell them anything, they turned around and asked me other related questions," he said.
"They asked about my bank account, whether I received money from foreign sources, or whether I had been to Arab countries," he added.
"They thought I was being funded by certain quarters but I don't even have a passport. Probably they thought I had links to some foreign NGOs based overseas," he said.
Subjected to mental torture
At all times during the sessions, Ahmad insisted that he had done nothing wrong but said the police appeared not too interested in hearing that.
They had merely replied "of course, those who commit wrongs never admit they are wrong", said Ahmad, adding that he was first grilled by three police officers from Bukit Aman, and later by Johor Bahru personnel.
He said that while that there was no physical torture, the police however often scolded him aggresively, torturing him mentally and emotionally.
"They kept asking me questions, when I want to answer they did not allow, they asked me other questions instead. They keep doing this," he said.
"At first they asked me nicely, when I said I do not know (the answer), they continue to ask me, hoping that I would get tired and provide them the answers they wanted," he added.
Meanwhile, Ahmad was shocked when told that the police had lodged a report against Malaysiakini for criminal defamation for articles on him, apologising profusely for it.
He plans to return to his work in Wangsa Maju and has been trying to get in touch with his employer, but had received no response so far.
Ahmad, however, merely wants to remain "a normal person" for now, saying until today, he is uncertain of the crime he was supposed to have committed.
"Even if I said anything on my Facebook, it is among my friends and acquaintances.
"I didn't even know what was my crime until I appeared in court. I was arrested before they even knew what was my crime. This is wrong," Ahmad said.
"I did not hurt or kill anyone. Even if I did anything wrong, it was by myself and to myself only," he lamented.
"There is such a thing as rule of law. We can talk about how the Rohingyas are being treated in Burma, but what are we doing here, in our own country?" he asked.
Ahmad has no plans yet to sue the police for wrongful detention but is in the midst of consulting his legal counsel.
He is grateful for his supportive family, whose home was also searched, friends, lawyers and the media, adding that his parents are still worried about him because of the "special forces" in Johor.
Bracing for extremists' attacks
While he was in the lock-up, the police had warned Ahmad that he might have to face the consequences of his actions when set free, prompting him to lodge a police report in Petaling Jaya yesterday.
"I just want to protect myself. I don't consider myself that important, but since the police have warned me, if anything happens to me, it may be the actions of the extremists in Johor," he said.
There were calls made on Facebook on a page called ‘Kesultanan Johor' (Johor Sultanante) asking that Ahmad be persecuted and if he steps foot in Johor, he would be beaten up.
However, since he was freed yesterday, Ahmad had received no threats or contact from the police although it would be difficult for him to forget their "drastic action (during arrest) as if I was a criminal".
He will return to the Johor Bahru Sessions Court on Nov 28 for the re-mention of his case.
He faces two charges of insulting Sultan Ibrahim. On the first count, he is alleged to have uploaded insulting remarks in a Facebook account registered under ‘Zul Yahya', at Dewan Tan Sri Mohamad Rahmat in Kampung Pasir, Tampoi at 3pm on Oct 21.
In the second, he is accused of committing a similar offence at the Johor police contingent headquarters media centre at 6pm on Oct 10, Bernama reported yesterday.
The charges are framed under Section 233(1)(a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, punishable under Section 233(3) of the same Act.
Ahmad faces a fine of not over RM50,000 or a jail term of not more than a year if convicted, and an additional fine of RM1,000 for each day he continues to commit the offence thereafter.--Courtesy of Malaysiakini