- Judicial process and timing in Anwar’s case implies persecution not prosecution, says Bar Council
- Anwar’s guilty verdict will backfire on Barisan, say analysts
- Malaysia: Anwar Ibrahim decision a “bleak day for justice” – Amnesty International
- Anwar Ibrahim says sodomy conviction ‘orchestrated’ by Najib government
Posted: 09 Mar 2014 05:32 AM PDT
The charge against Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and the manner in which his appeal was handled fuels the perception that the opposition leader was persecuted and not prosecuted, the Bar Council said.
Malaysian Bar president Christopher Leong (pic) said that in the first place, the archaic provision under the Penal Code which criminalises sodomy and oral sex should never have been brought against Anwar.
“The case has unnecessarily taken up judicial time and public funds, and has muddied the waters of our justice system.
“We also have grave misgivings with respect to the manner and timing in which the appeal was handled, especially over the way in which mitigation and sentencing proceeded,” Leong said.
The Court of Appeal had found Anwar guilty of sodomy on Friday, overturning the Kuala Lumpur High Court’s January 2012 decision that had found him innocent.
Leong, in a statement today, said that Anwar’s legal team was notified on February 27 that substantive appeal would be heard on March 6 and 7, and that lawyer Karpal Singh only had seven days to prepare for a criminal appeal over a case that had gone through a lengthy trial and which involved 32 witnesses, including expert evidence.
According to Leong, prior to this, the Court of Appeal registry had informed Anwar’s lawyers to reserve April 7 to 10 as the proposed hearing dates, to which the team agreed.
However, these dates were abandoned and replaced with earlier dates.
“If this is true, it raises the question as to why the Court of Appeal brought forward the appeal to be heard when the April dates had been agreed on.
“After all the defendant was facing a possible 20-year jail term and the April dates would have given the legal team more time to prepare,” he said.
Leong further said that while the hearing of the appeal which extended until past 6pm was not unheard of, it was a rare occurrence.
Further to this, after hearing submissions on March 7, the court had taken approximately 90 minutes to consider before giving a unanimous decision in reversing the acquittal by the High Court.
The panel then rejected Karpal’s request for an adjournment to the following week for the mitigation and sentencing for the purpose of obtaining a medical report on Anwar and instead gave the legal team one hour to prepare.
The Court of Appeal then sentenced Anwar to five years jail that evening with proceedings ending only at 7pm.
“These matters raise many questions, cause much speculation, and lend to the perception that justice may have been hijacked, Leong said.
He said that questions that must be answered was whether the cause of justice was best served by the manner and timing in which this appeal was handled and whether the administration of justice was compromised or interfered with.
“Justice and independence are not only facts to be established, it is imperative that they are seen to be so established,” Leong said.
Posted: 09 Mar 2014 05:31 AM PDT
The Court of Appeal's conviction of PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for sodomy and the five-year jail sentence meted out to him just four days before the Kajang by-election campaigning kicks off will result in a public backlash against Barisan Nasional (BN), political analysts said.
Professor Ahmad Atory Hussain, a political science lecturer from Universiti Sains Malaysia said the latest development was likely to deliver Pakatan Rakyat (PR) a bigger win in the state seat this time.
He said there is every possibility political parties from both sides of the divide will play on the sentiments of the people as they campaign towards polling day on March 23.
“It depends on how they campaign. It is all about the style of presentation and PR is very good at persuading the masses.
“With about 75% of Selangor voters supporting PR for two terms now, it is logical to conclude that the state seat will return to PKR with perhaps a bigger majority… it will be miraculous if BN can win it,” he told The Malaysian Insider yesterday after the appellate court overturned the High Court's acquittal of Anwar on a charge of sodomising his former aide six years ago.
Anwar was Pakatan Rakyat’s candidate after polls were triggered by the resignation of its assemblyman Lee Chin Cheh on January 27, but with his conviction, PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli is widely tipped to run for the state seat.
Ahmad Atory said issues BN could use against PR include the internal strife plaguing the three component parties, which may not even be relevant or strong enough to change Kajang voters' minds.
He also said Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim will likely stay as head of government.
Khalid could possibly become PKR deputy president too, should he contest the post, he added.
“He may be more suitable for the post because he has had over a term in office as Menteri Besar to show his performance and he has delivered.
“People have seen what he can do and he has many supporters in Selangor. What has (PKR deputy president) Azmin Ali delivered so far as MP?" said Ahmad Atory.
“I foresee a tough fight involving personalities like Khalid, Azmin and party vice-president Tian Chua in the May party election,” he added.
Asked to comment on criticisms against the justice system following the Court of Appeal's verdict, Ahmad Atory said it would be unfair to write off the entire judiciary just because people disagreed with the decision of judges.
“I admit the people will perceive the judiciary negatively now but we have no way of knowing what happened,” he said.
Penang Institute fellow and political and social analyst Dr Wong Chin Huat told The Malaysian Insider in a text message that Anwar has become a “martyr and a symbol of BN tyranny”.
He said the government will see how angry the people are, with messages of “Reformase 2.0″ overflowing on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Last night PKR deputy president Azmin Ali declared the beginning of Reformasi 2.0 to hundreds of supporters who had converged at the party's election centre at Kampung Sungai Sekamat, Kajang, urging BN's ouster.
“PKR’s candidate will ride on the public opinion of anger and sympathy and if the right candidate is chosen for the Kajang by-election, BN may experience a humiliating defeat and even a lose its deposit,” Wong said.
Political analyst Khoo Kay Peng, concurred, describing Anwar’s conviction as a rallying point for PR, one that would tip the by-election in the opposition's favour.
“The conviction will be used as a focus point by Pakatan Rakyat. You can expect the coalition to be more vocal and stronger,” he said.
Anwar was found not guilty of sodomising Saiful in January 2012 at the end of the defence case. The prosecution filed an appeal against the decision, which led to the appellate court overturning the High Court's verdict on Friday.
Posted: 09 Mar 2014 05:27 AM PDT
7 March 2014
Malaysia: Anwar Ibrahim decision a "bleak day for justice"
The conviction of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on charges of 'sodomy' should be quashed, Amnesty International said.
A court in Malaysia today overturned the acquittal of Anwar Ibrahim on politically motivated 'sodomy' charges. The court upheld a government appeal against a 2012 High Court decision that cleared Ibrahim of all charges, citing a lack of evidence.
"This is a bleak day for justice in Malaysia. Anwar Ibrahim has been consistently harassed by the authorities for years in a blatant attempt to silence one of the opposition's most important voices and bar him from participating in elections," said Hazel Galang-Folli, Amnesty International's Malaysia Researcher.
"Unfortunately this fits a broader pattern of severe restrictions on the right to freedom of expression in Malaysia. Opposition politicians, human rights defenders and civil society organizations are among those that have been targeted over the past year."
"The fact that the Malaysian authorities still consider 'sodomy' to be a crime is deeply disturbing in itself. The government must repeal the 'sodomy' law, a repressive statute that enables this kind of politically motivated persecution."
Laws criminalizing consensual sexual activity between adults of the same sex are contrary to international human rights law.
If Anwar Ibrahim is detained, Amnesty International would consider him a prisoner of conscience.
Posted: 09 Mar 2014 05:23 AM PDT
Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has accused Prime Minister Najib Razak's government of orchestrating his conviction and five-year jail sentence for sodomy and warned it would "face the wrath of the people".
"This is a travesty of justice," Anwar declared after the conviction was delivered amid uproar in Kuala Lumpur's Court of Appeal. “This has been choreographed.”
The verdict has inflamed tensions in the country after divisive and disputed elections last year and shattered Anwar's plans to take control of the country's richest state.
International human rights groups have condemned the four-year pursuit of 66-year-old Anwar on a rarely used colonial-era charge as politically motivated and a miscarriage of justice aimed at ending his political career.
The conviction, which Anwar has appealed, blocks him from contesting a by-election on March 23 for Selangor, the country’s most populous state, where he planned to become chief minister, providing a platform for him to launch a new bid to topple the government.
"It is a clear signal to the people of Malaysia that they [the government] are not interested in economic malaise but they are interested in killing their political opponents," Anwar said.
Earlier Anwar, a former finance minister and deputy prime minister, said there was "absolutely no case" for him to answer and "this is clearly seen to be political".
"You have got want you wanted," Anwar shouted to the judges after the unanimous verdict was announced.
Judges allowed bail of $2973 to be posted on Monday.
Anwar's 61-year-old wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, a leading opposition politician, wept in the packed court room and supporters chanted "reformation" and "free Anwar”.
Anwar has been a potent threat to the Barisan Nasional coalition that has ruled the country since its independence from Britain in 1957.
His opposition has made deep inroads into its parliamentary majority in the past two national elections, winning the most votes at elections last May but falling short of an historic victory because of a gerrymandered electoral system that favours Muslim voters in rural areas.
Anwar was arrested in 2008 on charges of having intercourse with a male aide.
He had already spent six years in jail on sodomy and corruption charges after he was sacked as deputy prime minister in 1998 and lost his status as heir apparent to then prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.
He was found guilty of the 2008 charge but, after a long series of delays, the High Court in January 2012 acquitted him after a judge found that crucial DNA evidence submitted by the prosecution might have been compromised.
Human rights groups condemned the decision by prosecutors to launch an appeal against the acquittal.
The crime that criminalises "carnal intercourse against the course of nature" provides punishment of up to 20 years.
But the United Nations Human Rights Committee has ruled it contravenes international legal standards and should be abolished.
The International Commission of Jurists condemned Anwar's conviction as a miscarriage of justice, saying it "casts doubts on the independence and impartiality of the Malaysian judiciary and tarnishes the reputation of the country's legal system".
The ICJ's observer at the court was its commissioner Justice Elizabeth Evatt, a former chief judge of Australia's Family Court.
A government spokesperson saidMalaysia had an independent judiciary.
"This is a case between two individuals and is a matter for the courts, not the government," the spokesperson said.
Malaysia's Lawyers for Liberty said the conviction on a "clearly trumped up and politically motivated charge" reaffirmed "the return of iron-fist authoritarian rule and Najib Razak's false reformist credentials".
Anwar's wheelchair-bound lawyer Karpal Singh, 73, who is also a leading opposition figure, was found guilty of sedition last month, a law the government had pledged to abolish in the run-up to the last election. He faces sentencing on March 11.
Phil Robertson, deputy director, Asia division of Human Rights Watch, said Anwar's trial "was all about knocking him out of politics and the government was prepared to do whatever it took to make that happen".
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