Prison wardens brought to court over breaching jail rules

Fadley Faisal

The Magistrate’s Court yesterday dealt with a case involving two prison wardens facing charges of breaching the Prisons Rules by trafficking with prisoners on three different occasions between February and April 2019.

Warder 662 Azman Ilham bin Haji Mohd Noor and Female Warder 622 Siti Naemah binti Haji Lilah were charged for conveying letters without lawful authority between a male prisoner at Maraburong Prison, Wong Soon Teck, and a female prisoner at the Women’s Prison Institution in Jerudong, Rannie Labu. Wong and Rannie are married and were serving prison sentence in separate institutions.

Female Warder 622 Siti Naemah pleaded guilty to the three charges against her.

DPP Dayangku Didi-Nuraza binti Pengiran Haji Abdul Latiff informed the court that communications between prisoners and their relatives are only allowed according to the provisions of the Prisons Rules. Letters can only be sent and received through the Record Unit of the Prisons Department.

Investigations carried out by the Anti-Corruption Bureau revealed that sometime in February 2019, Siti Naemah received from a fellow prison warder posted at the Maraburong Prison, a letter written by Wong to be delivered to Rannie.

When she reported to work at the Jerudong Prison the following day, she delivered the letter to Rannie. She did so behind a table hidden from the view of other prisoners and prison officers. She provided Rannie with pen and paper to reply to the letter.

She took the reply letter and passed it to the prison warder attached at the Maraburong Prison. The letter eventually reached Wong.

Again in April 2019, Siti Naemah received another letter from the prison warder at the Maraburong Prison to be passed to Rannie.

The letter was written by Wong who was still in prison. She subsequently delivered the letter to Rannie at the Jerudong Prison when she was on duty at the prison cells. She called Rannie to the wardress toilet and gave the letter to Rannie.

She gave a pen and paper to Rannie for her to write a reply but Rannie did not manage to do so because another warder walked in.

The DPP submitted that as a prison officer, Siti Naemah had a duty to supervise and monitor the activities of prisoners to ensure that prison rules are enforced. Instead, she had repeatedly neglected her duties when she allowed the prisoners to bypass the rules on prisoners’ communications. Her actions have the potential of eroding the trust placed in prison officers to rehabilitate prisoners.

In delivering her sentence, Chief Magistrate Pengiran Masni binti Pengiran Haji Bahar considered the offences as serious. Siti Naemah’s acts have an “impact on the welfare of the prisoner and the national security of the prison”. The Chief Magistrate noted that rules regarding the writing and sending of letters by prisoners are put in place to discourage any undesirable communications.

She further stated that a stern approach has to be taken for those who fail to abide with such rules. “A deterrent sentence has to be imposed in order to send a clear message to other officers that such disobedience that could jeopardise the safety of prison will not be taken lightly,” the court stated.

Siti Naemah was sentenced to two months’ imprisonment.

Azman Ilham informed the court that he was not ready for his plea to be recorded.

The court then adjourned the case against Azman Ilham to be mentioned again on June 24.