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Monday, March 31, 2014

Tight security at bizarre royal divorce case


Police personnel and members of the Johor Military Force made their presence felt at the Syariah Court of Appeal in Johor Bahru this morning, during a bizarre divorce hearing involving the Johor royalty.

Former sultanah Tuanku Zanariah Tuanku Ahmad isappealing a backdated divorceapplication that had been filed some months after the death of her husband, Tuanku Mahmud Iskandar on Jan 22, 2010.

Tuanku Zanariah’s lawyer Kamar Ainiah Kamarulzaman(left) said her client and children were not allowed to enter the court room. Even her lawyers were escorted out by the police, with the exception of the lead counsel Afshah Ariffin.

Kamar Ainiah said there were four high-ranking police officers, 13 uniformed police personnel and seven others believed to be Special Branch officers outside the court.

"There are also several police Special Action Unit members and also Johor Military Force personnel,” she claimed.

“The Syariah Court of Appeal made sure that all of us except for the lead counsel are not in the courtroom before they began the proceedings.”

This afternoon, the court allowed an application by the state Islamic Council (MAIJ) to be an intervener in the case.

The three-member panel comprising Justices Syed Ali Syed Abu Bakar, Marsid @ Morsid Mahrof and Jainuddin Mt Sum found that the application had met the requirements of Section 18 and 19 of the Johor Syariah Procedure enactment.

Section 18 involves combining parties in an application and Section 19 is on a change of parties.

The court also ordered that MAIJ be placed as a respondent in all documentation relating to the appeal, and that Tuanku Mahmud Iskandar's name be deleted as a respondent.

Tuanku Zanariah had named Tuanku Mahmud Iskandar as respondent, as the divorce application had allegedly been made by him.

Last Thursday, the three-member panel had declared that the proceedings were to be conducted behind closed doors.

Fresh documents

The divorce application had been heard at the Lower Syariah Court without Tuanku Zanariah's presence or knowledge in August or September 2010.

She was only informed of this last August in a letter from the state mufti and former Johor menteri besar Abdul Ghani Othman (right).

The divorce was backdated to Jan 23, 2009 after the Johor Fatwa Committee accepted a statutory declaration by Abdul Ghani and Johor royal committee chairperson Tengku Osman Tunku Temenggong Ahmad, verifying that the application was genuine.

On Jan 1 this year, Tuanku Zanariah had filed a review application at the Johor Syariah High Court seeking to annul the divorce certificate.

On Jan 20, the Johor Syariah High Court had upheld the lower court's decision as valid, resulting in the appeal.

Kamar Ainiah and Afshah said dates have yet to be fixed to hear the appeal, and that the relevant documents will have to be filed again following today's decisions.

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