|Anwar’s case put off to Sept 24|
|Beh Lih Yi & Andrew Ong | Sep 10, 08 8:25am|
|Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy case was today adjourned to Sept 24 following a dispute over a certificate signed by Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail to transfer the case to the Kuala Lumpur High Court.
When the case was called up this morning at 9.58am before Sessions judge SM Komathy Suppiah, the prosecution submitted the certificate for the case to be transferred to the high court.
However, Anwar’s lead counsel Sulaiman Abdullah disputed the certificate (see photo) as it was signed by Abdul Gani.
Sulaiman contended that Abdul Gani should not be involved in the case as he was a party to a complaint lodged by Anwar for having allegedly tampering with evidence in 1998.
“We have been categorically informed that the attorney-general plays absolutely no part in this prosecution,” said Sulaiman, adding that this was based on a media statement made by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
“So far we haven’t read any statement from the AG’s Chambers to correct the prime minister on that (decision),” the lawyer told the court, which was packed with PKR leaders and supporters, as well as Anwar and his family.
The premier had said that Abdul Gani and Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan would not be directly involved in Anwar’s sodomy case following Anwar’s police report against the duo for tampering with evidence in his court cases 10 years ago.
Sulaiman argued that the signing of the letter showed the AG was involved in the prosecution.
“In order to sign the certificate, he needs to apply his mind on the circumstances of the case and consider them; he is not a chief clerk just to sign (documents),” the veteran lawyer said to the laughter from court.
Legal procedures cited
The six-member prosecution team, led by the AG’s Chambers prosecution head Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden countered that the certificate, however, could only be signed by the AG under the laws.
Sulaiman had also earlier pointed out that, under Section 418A of the Criminal Procedure Code and Article 145 of the Federal Constitution, such power could only be exercised by Abdul Gani.
At this juncture, Justice Komathy suggested a two week-adjournment to allow both parties time to research on the matter and to submit arguments, to which Sulaiman agreed.
Komathy then quipped, telling Yusof: “I have read many law reports in which the high court and court of appeal judges have paid tribute to you as a very fair deputy public prosecutor (DPP), so I trust you will not have objection to this postponement.”
Yusof however objected to the timeframe, to much annoyance of a visibly upset Sulaiman.
Sulaiman (in a raised voice): That’s why I keep on telling him (Yusof) to tell us in advance whether the case will be transferred. Don’t catch me by surprise.
Yusof: Two weeks is too long. This is a public interest case.
Judge: If you say this is a public interest case, then all parties need to be given sufficient time (to study the matter). I am going to grant the two-week adjournment. All the judges have said you are a fair DPP.
The judge then teased Yusof as to whether he was merely raising the objection “for record purposes”.
She later fixed Sept 24 to hear arguments from both parties over the validity of the certificate signed by Abdul Gani.
Bail issue not raised in court
Anwar had arrived at the Jalan Duta court complex with his wife, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, at 9.30am and were greeted by about 100 opposition supporters.
They were accompanied by two of their daughters, Nurul Izzah and Nurul Nuha, as well as lawyer Sankara Nair.
Anwar and Wan Azizah, who were surrounded by a large group of journalists and photographers, slowly made their way into the courtroom, where the hearing was due to begin at 10am.
The police had heightened security around the court complex, with at least five Federal Reserve Unit trucks seen on standby.
The riot squad, armed with tear gas launchers and batons, were in full force.
“This is not a trial of Anwar but of the people’s demand for a new government,” said one of the supporters, 34-year-old engineer K Ragunath.
“The government wants to stop Anwar from taking power by charging him falsely and I think it is wrong, we want justice for Anwar.”
Norhayati Aulkifli, a 22-year-old student wearing a Muslim headscarf, said, “we want to see real change in Malaysia and we believe only Anwar can deliver that.”
“We want an end to corruption and crime, and to have an honest government.”
Journalists were asked to register at three places before being allowed into the courtroom. The police also used a metal detector to check those entering the courtroom.
Anwar had claimed trial on Aug 7 when charged with sodomising his former aide, 23-year-old Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.
If convicted, he could face a 20-year jail term if found guilty. He is currently out on a RM20,000 personal bond.
His supporters had feared that his bail could be revoked today, resulting in Anwar being sent to prison while awaiting his trial – a process that could take months.
However, the issue was not raised in court today.