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Court ticks off parties in apostasy case

PENANG, 6 Jan 2009: The Penang Syariah Court of Appeal today ticked off both parties in the appeal against a lower court’s decision, which allowed Siti Fatimah Tan Abdullah to renounce Islam, after they failed to submit written submissions.

“The mistake should not have happened. This thing needs to be attended to seriously,” said Datuk Ibrahim Lembut who led the three-member appeal court panel.

The other judges were Datuk Abu Bakar Ahmad dan Datuk Muhammad Asri Abdullah.

On 8 May 2008, the Penang Syariah High Court ruled that Tan Ean Huang who embraced Islam on 25 July 1998 to marry an Iranian, Ferdoun Ashanian, and who changed her name to Siti Fatimah, was no longer a Muslim.

Justice Othman Ibrahim, now Perlis Syariah Chief Judge, also allowed her application filed on 10 July 2006 to renounce Islam on the ground that she had not practised Islamic teachings since her conversion.

The Penang Islamic Religious Council later brought the case for appeal.

On 4 Dec 2008, the appeal court allowed Siti Fatimah, 39, to obtain new appeal records filed by the religious council and ordered both parties to make written submissions.

Since both parties failed to submit their arguments in the written form today, the appeal court decided to hear the case tomorrow.

At today’s proceedings, the religious council was represented by Ahmad Munawir Abdul Aziz while counsel Ahmad Jailani Abdul Ghani acted for Siti Fatimah. — Bernama


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