I was doing my duty, says Siti Kasim after release

KAJANG: Lawyer and activist Siti Kasim who was arrested yesterday for apparently "obstructing a civil servant from carrying out his or her duties" was freed more than 12 hours later after the magistrate's court here rejected a remand order application by police.

Siti was arrested at 12.40am when she showed up at the Kajang district police headquarters to represent her client Anis Izzatty Ruslan, a 24-year-old woman who fled home allegedly to escape her abusive mother.

In a rare event of the police and its detainee holding a joint press conference, Siti Kasim and Kajang police chief ACP Ahmad Dzaffir Mohd Yussof met reporters at the district police headquarters here at about 3pm.

Ahmad Dzaffir said although Siti Kasim was freed as the remand order was rejected, investigations on her will continue and the findings will be submitted to the Attorney-General's Chambers for further action.

In responding to claims that police had acted beyond their boundaries in detaining Siti Kasim, he rebutted the allegations and said police action was within the perimeters of the law.

Siti Kasim explained in the press conference that she was merely defending her client when asked about her "fierce" reproach when confronting the police.

"It's my duty as a lawyer to defend my client. When you hire a lawyer I am sure you want your lawyer to do the best for you and really fight for you to not be detained further. What is the point in having a lawyer when they cannot go all out to defend. Yes, I can be a very fierce when the circumstances call for it. There is no problem, I just had to spend a night in the lock-up and miss a conference. I have nothing against the police, they are just doing their job but they have to use their discretion based on a case. I will give my full cooperation to the police and work together to resolve the case because there are many things behind this," she said.

She said it should be questioned why Putrajaya police had initially detained Anis in Shah Alam and subsequently sent her to Kajang Hospital.

Siti Kasim said she was touched and overwhelmed by the support she received from the Malaysian Bar when 12 lawyers showed up to defend her.

Earlier, Selangor police CID chief SAC Fadzil Ahmat said police had raided an apartment unit in Segambut at 9pm on Saturday night to rescue Anis after her mother lodged a police report on Friday alleging that her daughter, who was undergoing psychiatric evaluation by doctors at the Kajang Hospital, was abducted by Siti Kasim.

He said a report was also lodged against Siti by a police personnel who was escorting Anis at the Kajang Hospital.

Fadzil said the police personnel's report was on a commotion that occurred at the Kajang Hospital where Siti Kasim allegedly barged into an examination ward, despite being stopped by a security guard.

Anis was in police custody at the time and left the hospital with Siti willingly before putting up at her house.

Police traced Anis to Siti's house at a condominium in Segambut and when an attempt was made to rescue her, she locked herself inside the apartment.

Fearing the woman, who was alone in the house, might hurt herself and others around her, the raiding party forced open the main door to gain entry into the apartment.

Fadzil said the woman was sent to the Kajang Hospital again to to undergo her missed treatment and also for police investigators to determine the outcome of her medical condition.

He said the case was classified as an abduction under Section 363 of the Penal Code, while Siti was arrested under Section 186 of the Penal Code for obstructing a civil servant from carrying out his or her duties.

In a Facebook posting on Friday, Siti said that the woman had contacted her a couple of months ago and sought her advice claiming she was terrified of her domineering mother and wanted to leave home to lead her life.

Siti said after she advised the woman that she was free to do what she wanted as she was an adult, the woman decided to leave home and was employed at a legal firm.

The woman also lodged a police report saying she was leaving her home.

However, the woman's mother lodged reports with the Selangor Religious Department (JAIS) and police claiming that her daughter is mentally unstable.

Siti said JAIS summoned the woman for a statement but when she showed up the authorities held her in what she described was an "entrapment".