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Man sentenced in absentia over possessing contraband

Fadley Faisal

Following a High Court order for a man to be tried in absentia over a charge of possessing smuggled cigarettes, the trial concluded with an order for the defendant to settle a BND73,440 fine or serve 17 months’ jail last Saturday.

Senior Magistrate Azrimah Abdul Rahman found that Prosecutor ‘Adzimah Salleh has proven the case against Haji Azman bin Sulaiman of a charge for possessing 66 cartons of cigarettes of various brands in his car in the vicinity of Kampong Junjongan at 4.15pm on October 17, 2017.

The court established that the cigarettes found on the defendant were not for personal consumption.

The defendant, went missing mid-trial and was nowhere to be found by police and customs officers who made nine attempts between May 2019 to March 2022 to serve an arrest warrant at Haji Azman’s address.

Chief Justice Dato Seri Paduka Steven Chong agreed with the prosecutor who submitted that the case has dragged on long enough and should come to a close and ordered for him to be tried in absentia.

Haji Azman was charged on November 6, 2017, and the trial began on November 26, 2018.

The prosecution made final submissions on January 2, 2019 when Haji Azman asked for time to prepare his replies.

He was given three extensions while the judgement was fixed for March 30, 2019.

Photo courtesy of the AGC shows the fugitive Haji Azman bin Sulaiman