|Jennifer Josef, ILGA-ASIA|
|Jennifer Josef, ILGA-ASIA|
The suspense and drama surrounding Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s Sodomy II trial may have come to an end but for the Barisan Nasional government, burying the hatchet is not an option; instead the Attorney-General’s Chambers on Jan 20 went on to file an appeal against Anwar’s acquittal.
Anwar was exonerated from charges of sodomising his former aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan on Jan 9 this year.
Anwar was charged with having sodomised Saiful, his former aide, then 24, in a condominium unit in Bukit Damansara on June 26, 2008.
When on Jan 9, 2012, High Court judge Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah acquitted Anwar, the adviser to Pakatan Rakyat, the opposition pact of PKR, DAP and PAS, it was one news that made the BN government squirm.
To judge Mohamad Zabidin, the uncertainty as to whether the DNA evidence had been compromised was good enough reason to discharge and acquit the opposition leader.
Said Mohamad Zabdin: “After going through defence and evidence in full, the court could not be 100% certain that the DNA evidence was not compromised. It is not safe to rely on DNA evidence. There can be no corroboration.
“There is no other evidence except the testimony of SP1 (Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan) of penetration… the court is reluctant to convict based on the evidence of Saiful. It is not safe to conclude… the court is reluctant to convict the accused based on such evidence.
“As such the accused is acquitted and discharged.”
But BN is far from pleased. It wants Anwar, regarded as its biggest political threat, out of politics, by hook or crook.
It is alarming that BN is willing to stoop to any level to end Anwar’s political career, re-kindled after the 2008 sodomy charges involving Mohd Saiful.
By appealing against the High Court decision, the federal government is sending out the wrong message to the rakyat and trying to manipulate the judiciary will affirm the claim that the judiciary is no longer transparent.
Why is BN feeling threatened with Anwar’s release? Is it because BN under prime minister Najib Tun Razak has little faith of clinching the people’s trust in the coming general election? Or is BN afraid of the ‘secrets’ Anwar is capable of spilling?
Whatever the reason, BN remains arrogant and power-hungry.
Respect the judiciary, let Anwar go
The decision to appeal against Anwar’s discharge has been condemned by the United States-based Human Rights Watch (HRW).
HRW’s Asia division deputy director Phil Robertson without mincing his words said the end of the trial gave the government an opportunity to bow out gracefully. He said by re-appealing, the government was interferring in the judiciary.
“The trial court gave the government a chance to bow out gracefully from Anwar’s politically motivated prosecution. It’s very unfortunate that they didn’t take it.”
“This decision (to appeal) means the citizens of Malaysia will be further subjected to the more political machinations in the courtroom as the government perpetuates this travesty of a trial for a crime that should not be a crime in the first place,” said Robertson.
Does BN care what the international community has to say about its tampering with the country’s judiciary?
Perhaps former information and tourism minister Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir spoke too soon when he said the nation’s judiciary had redeemed itself.
Reacting to Anwar’s release, Abdul Kadir had said:
“I think it’s a great day for the Malaysian judiciary. So many things were said about our judiciary in the past and it was very very dangerous.
“People had no confidence in the judiciary, but today they (judiciary) have redeemed themselves,” Abdul Kadir, deputy president of Amanah, said.
Abdul Kadir’s faith in the effectiveness of the judiciary is another story for another day. This former Umno member stopped short of saying whether Umno had tampered with the justice system.
Anwar’s freedom BN’s nightmare
Anwar, when acquitted, was surprised by the court’s decision and reacted by saying: “Thank God. Justice has been served and I have been vindicated” while his wife, Dr Wan Azizah Ismail who is also the PKR leader welcomed the good news with tears in her eyes.
Equally pleased with the verdict passed by Mohamad Zabidin was DAP national chairperson and lead counsel Karpal Singh who said: “It’s a great victory for him on the threshold of the next election.”
Just as glad was Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee who said the court was right to acquit Anwar as the prosecution team had relied heavily on a compromised DNA evidence for their case.
“…the defence team was also denied access to crucial documents and physical evidence which may have helped Anwar’s lawyers to prepare his defence,” said Lim who called upon the the Attorney-General’s Chambers not to appeal against the verdict and focus its resources on more serious crimes in the country.
Lim had a point when he said that the sodomy trial has taken up top much judicial and public funds.
BN, focus on the rakyat, not Anwar
It is appalling how despondent BN has become after Anwar walked away a free person. Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin attacked the Bar Council instead, saying it was biased.
Muhyiddin said the Bar Council did not ask the AG’s Chambers to file an appeal against Anwar’s acquittal. Muhyiddin seems angry that the Bar Council has taken a stand to uphold justice and not dance to the tunes of the ‘powers that be’ to exploit the judiciary.
The DPM went so far as to say that Mohd Saiful’s father, Azlan Mohd Lazim has the right to ask the prosecution to take up the case to the Court of Appeal as his son was entitled to a recourse.
For how long does BN intend to hold a grudge againt Anwar or for that matter has vendetta become’s BN’s priority?
Interferring with the judiciary to finish off Anwar is a move that the Najib-administration is going to regret for a long, long time.