Saturday, February 27, 2010

As expected, no ‘fair trial’ for Anwar

Wong Choon Mei

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26: In a move already widely anticipated despite the government's assurance of a fair trial, the Federal Court has rejected Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s plea for key evidence that will help his lawyers prepare his defense against a second round of sodomy charges.

In defiance of United Nations guidelines for a fair trial – which stipulates that both defense and prosecution must be given access to the ‘same weapons’ – the Malaysian Federal Court refused to review its own decision made on January 29 to bar Anwar’s team from “fishing for evidence”.

“Sadly this doesn’t come as a surprise. It only confirms all the suspicions and views expressed by Malaysians and the international community that Anwar is being persecuted,” PAS legal advisor Hanipa Maidin told Harakahdaily.

“The immediate and longer term implications are the same. Malaysian law will not be respected or trusted internationally. Even in this country, let’s be frank, how many still believe in the existing system?”

DNA samples

A three-member panel led by Justices Zulkifli Makinddin, Mohd Ghazali Mohd Yusoff and Heliliah Mohd Yusof had heard arguments from Anwar’s lawyer Karpal Singh and Solicitor-General II Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden.

"Rule 137 does not confer jurisdiction on the Federal Court to review its own decision. This is not a suitable case for review by another panel ofcourt. Even if the panel disagrees with the decision there are no constitutional grounds to warrant a review," Zulkifli ruled.

Among the evidence Anwar is seeking are medical and chemist reports, DNA samples, witnesses’ statements and CCTV footage. These are currently held by the prosecution, which has refused to share the documents with Anwar even though Malaysian lawmakers had last year amended Section 51 of their Criminal Code Procedure, endorsing the 'level playing field' requirement of the UN.

"It is the DNA samples and the chemist report that they want to keep from Anwar," a PKR insider told Harakahdaily. "The prosecution is basing its entire case on Anwar's DNA. They say his semen was found in Saiful's anus. But how can that be when there was no penetration?

"Anwar is now worried that the government will use his DNA taken when they jailed him in 1998. And this is why the prosecution is resisting all the way. Independent experts would be able to tell if it is faked the moment they access the samples."

Political low blow

Both the UN Human Rights Commission and Amnesty International have sent protest notes to Prime Minister Najib Razak. The global scolding was so intense that de-facto Law Minister Nazri Aziz has been sent to Washington to mend the country’s tattered image.

Earlier this month, Nazri had taken the foreign press to task for having “falsely cast this trial as politically motivated and portrayed the defendant as the victim”.

“As is the standard practice in Malaysia, the rights of both the accuser and the accused will be respected during the trial of Mr. Anwar. We support due process as each party has an opportunity to present their case to an impartial judge,” Nazri said.

“Well, we know who is lying now,” Hanipa said. “This is a very black period for Malaysia where oppression and manipulation is at its highest. It really hammers through the point how power-crazed and unscrupulous our leaders have become and how afraid of Anwar they are.”

Anwar was a former star finance minister and deputy prime minister to Mahathir Mohamad. In 1998, he was thrown into jail on sodomy charges that were manifestly fabricated by his boss to destroy his rising political power. A year after Mahathir retired in 2003, the charges were overturned and Anwar was freed.

In 2008, as Anwar was about to make his parliamentary comeback, a former aide Saiful Bukhari Azlan accused him of sodomy. Saiful lodged the police report against Anwar in July, two days after having met Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor.

Anwar has pleaded not guilty, accusing Najib and Rosmah of using the same tricks as Mahathir to block his political rise.




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