Inter-Parliamentary Union: Anwar’s trial should be abandoned

From The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR — An international organisation of parliaments has urged Malaysia to abandon the prosecution of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for sodomy because it claims the case has brought disrepute to the justice system.

In a special report released in August, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) also questioned the alleged direct involvement of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and SAC I Datuk Rodwan Yusof, who had met Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan days before Anwar allegedly sodomised him.

“The prosecution has obviously been compromised, even by the mere perception that a member of its team has been guilty of wrongdoing. Removing Farah Azlina from the team has not solved the problem because her wrongdoing has tainted the entire prosecution and the integrity of the trial,” Mark Trowell, a Queen’s Counsel based in Australia, wrote in a report on behalf of the IPU.

Deputy public prosecutor Farah Azlina Latif was in the team prosecuting Anwar (picture) when allegations surfaced that she was romantically involved with Saiful.

However, Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail stressed that the junior prosecutor was removed to prevent negative public perception of the Sodomy II prosecution team.

The report said Farah’s relationship with the complainant had denied Anwar a fair trial.

“If it is accepted the complainant improperly obtained confidential information from Farah Azlina that enabled him to tailor his testimony to fit within the physical evidence, then the case has been compromised to the extent that Anwar could never obtain a fair trial.

“Even if Mohd Saiful did not gain confidential information from Farah Azlina, the perception that he did not would taint any subsequent trial in the same way,” said Trowell.

Trowell also stressed that there were serious allegations of political interference in the case at the highest level.

“The prosecution of Anwar has occurred within a context of the admitted involvement of the prime minister and his staff, the Attorney-General, the senior assistant commissioner and the bringing of a charge at a time when Anwar had just returned to Parliament to challenge the ruling coalition when its fortunes were flagging,” he said.

The report said the alleged involvement of Najib has brought the country’s justice system into disrepute.

“The direct involvement of the prime minister, the Attorney-General and the senior assistant commissioner has allowed the defence to question their role in the bringing of the charge against Anwar. It is something that has the potential to bring into disrepute the Malaysian justice system, which is definitely not in the public interest,” said Trowell.

Trowell also criticised the A-G for not performing his duty.

“Not only may he institute and conduct proceedings for an offence, but he may also discontinue the criminal proceedings that he has instituted, and the court cannot compel him to institute or to go with any criminal proceedings that he has decided to discontinue.

“The general principle that the Attorney-General must, in performing his duty, act in the public interest applies with particular force to his powers under clause 3 of Article 145 of the Malaysian Federal Constitution,” he said.

Anwar, the 62-year-old PKR de facto leader, is currently facing sodomy charges for the second time in his life.

The former deputy prime minister is charged with sodomising Saiful at Unit 11-5-1 of the Desa Damansara Condominium in Jalan Setiakasih, Bukit Damansara here between 3.01pm and 4.30pm on June 26, 2008.

Anwar has denied the charge, describing it as “evil, frivolous lies by those in power” when the charge was read out to him. He is charged under section 377B of the Penal Code and can be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years’ jail and whipping upon conviction. The trial is taking place 18 months after Anwar was charged in court in August 2008.

He was charged with sodomy and corruption in 1998 after he was sacked from the Cabinet and was later convicted and jailed for both offences. He was freed in September 2004 and later resurrected his political career by winning back his Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat in a by-election in 2008, which had been held in the interim by his wife.

He had earlier led the opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat, to a historic sweep of five states and 82 parliamentary seats in Election 2008.

Recently, two former aides to Anwar revealed that they were coerced into signing statutory declarations to allegedly implicate Najib and his wife in the sodomy case.

The Federal Court has also denied Anwar access to statements made by the complainant after he claimed that there were inconsistencies between Saiful’s testimony and the sodomy charge frame against him.

Anwar’s lawyers believe that if the defence were given access to Saiful’s witness statements, it would affect the outcome of the entire trial. –

Article by Azmin Ali

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