Posted: 05 Mar 2014 12:28 AM PST
Posted: 04 Mar 2014 10:49 PM PST
As Putrajaya prepares to fight the acquittal of opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (pic) on a sodomy charge in the Court of Appeal tomorrow, two human rights groups have called for the dismissal of the case, saying it was “politically motivated”.
Suaram and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) urged the court to dismiss Putrajaya’s appeal, saying that it was motivated to dampen the “serious political challenge” the federal government had experienced since Independence.
“The prosecution has expedited proceedings in an apparent attempt to prevent Anwar Ibrahim from running for the post of Menteri Besar of Malaysia's richest and most populous state,” Suaram executive director Yap Swee Seng said in a statement today.
The NGOs also drew attention to Anwar’s candidacy in the Kajang by-election and bid to become the next Selangor Menteri Besar, noting that an unfavourable court decision would mean an end to Anwar’s plans.
“If the Court of Appeal upholds the prosecution’s appeal, it could immediately sentence Anwar to a jail term which would result in his inability to run in the by-election,” the statement read.
Nominations for the by-election have been fixed for March 11 while polling will be on March 23.
Political analysts have said Anwar was walking a tightrope by contesting the Kajang state seat with the sodomy case still hanging over his head.
The sodomy offence which Anwar had been accused of carries a jail term of up to 20 years and whipping.
Under the law, an MP or assemblyman who is jailed for a year or more and slapped with a fine of RM2,000 or more will be disqualified.
In 2012, the High Court acquitted Anwar of a charge of sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan at a Desa Damansara condominium unit in Bukit Damansara in 2008, based on tainted DNA evidence presented by the prosecution.
Umno lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah is to lead the prosecution team in the appeal proceedings, which begins tomorrow.
On March 4, the Federal Court allowed Putrajaya’s application to strike out the notice of appeal filed by Anwar to recall the investigating officer in his sodomy case – former Superintendent Jude Blacious Pereira – as a witness.
Anwar had also failed in his three attempts to remove Shafee as the prosecutor. He had first challenged the legality of Shafee’s appointment under the Criminal Procedure Code but this was dismissed by the Federal Court on November 20.
His second application to disqualify Shafee, based on a statutory declaration (SD) by former Kuala Lumpur Criminal Investigation Department chief Datuk Mat Zain Ibrahim, was also dismissed by the Federal Court on February 11.
Anwar filed the third application on February 25 to disqualify Shafee on grounds that the senior lawyer was not a fit and proper person to accept the appointment as he was found guilty of violating the Legal Profession Publicity Rules 2001 and this, too, was struck out on March 3.
International NGO Human Rights Watch had previously urged Putrajaya to drop its appeal against Anwar’s acquittal. It had also noted that the attack on Anwar was politically motivated.
"Malaysian authorities are only adding insult to injury by appealing Anwar's acquittal, compounding the injustice already inflicted on Anwar and his family,” Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, had said.
FIDH president Karim Lahidji said today that the appellate court’s decision would be a “litmus test” for the independence of the Malaysian judiciary.
“The Court of Appeal must uphold international standards of fair trial come this March 6 and 7,” he added.
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