Continuing Live by Malaysiakini/Malaysian Insider at the KL High Courts
- SODOMY2 – Hearing starts tomorrow 2.30pm. 21 minutes ago
- SODOMY2 – Application for stay denied, court cannot postpone despite Anwar’s lawyers asking for one pending other appeals. 22 minutes ago
- SODOMY2 – Prosecution says object inserted into Saiful’s anus not plastic and clinical findings not enough, need to call witness. 32 minutes ago
LIVE UPDATES follow from the Kuala Lumpur High Court.
- SODOMY2 – Prosecution says object inserted into Saiful’s anus not plastic and clinical findings not enough, need to call witness. 10 minutes ago
- SODOMY2 – Judge visibly annoyed with Karpal for saying he was wrong in not striking out the case earlier as reports show no anal penetration 20 minutes ago
- SODOMY2 – Karpal says clinical findings do not point to penetration, questions judge’s decision to allow prosecution other witnesses. 34 minutes ago
3.35pm: Court adjourns. Resumes at 2.30pm tomorrow.
3.30pm: Judge Mohd Zabidin rules that there are no special circumstances to grant a stay order and orders for the trial to proceed.
3.20pm: Submissions ends. Court adjourns for 10 minutes for Justice Mohd Zabidin to decide on the stay application.
3.15pm: Mohd Yusof tells the court that there are no special circumstances for the court to granta stay.
He adds that medical reports in his possession makes no mention of plastic being inserted in Saiful’s anus.
3:10pm: Lead prosecutor Mohd Yusof begins submissions.
2.50pm: Karpal submits that two medical reports found no evidence of penetration in Saiful’s anus and is thus sufficient grounds for Judge Mohd Zabidin to grant a stay application.
“Penetration is an important element. Conviction is unlikely. No judge will hold that other witnesses were necessary,” he said
“(Even) if you called 1,000 witnesses what is fundamental is the medical report which shows no penetration.”
2.45pm: Defence lawyer Karpal kicks off proceedings by citing several precedence to support stay application.
2.30pm: Anwar and his family are back in the court complex. Anwar is sporting sunglasses and is greeted with cheers and chants of ‘Reformasi’ by about 50 supporters.
Police appears to have learned from the morning commotion are now vigorously inspecting those trying to enter the building. Bags are also being checked.
Photographers – who caused a stir by mobbing Anwar and others this morning – are barred from entering the court building.
Seorang Pak Cik yang telah datang dari Permatang Pauh, telah pengsan, mungkin kerana melewati batas keupayaan dalam menghadapi berbagai kemungkinan ketika memberikan sokongan moral dan mempamerkan keutuhan semangat, kesedaran dan penghayatan dalam menegakkan kebenaran dan keadilan di Mahkamah Tinggi KL pagi tadi. Beliau telah memeluk Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim sebelum diberitakan pengsan.
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 2 — Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said today he would subpoena the prime minister as his second trial began on what he says are trumped up charges of sodomy.
Speaking outside a packed courtroom and cheered on by 250 supporters shouting “justice for Malaysia, justice for Anwar”, the 62-year old former deputy premier said the presence of so many foreign embassy staff in court showed the “interest, concern and disgust” the new trial was attracting.
Anwar’s trial represents a huge political challenge to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak who is attempting to rebuild the coalition that has ruled Malaysia for over half a century after record losses in elections in 2008.
An upbeat Anwar told reporters after the court hearing was adjourned until the afternoon that his lawyers intended to subpoena Datuk Seri Najib and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, alleging that they were involved in what he said was a conspiracy to jail him.
Earlier, Datuk Seri Anwar, accompanied by two of his daughters and his wife, told reporters the prosecution was down to “the machinations of a dirty, corrupt few”.
The government insists it is not involved in the trial and no one was immediately available for comment on Anwar’s charge.
Najib, who has been premier since April last year, also needs to defuse a religious row that has damaged the government and win back foreign investment that fled Malaysia at a faster rate than almost any other emerging market economy in 2009.
Inside the court, diplomats from the United States, European Union, Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom observed the proceedings and 70 people squashed onto benches in the public gallery, including Nik Aziz, spiritual adviser to Anwar’s Islamic political allies, wearing a white turban and black robe.
The trial itself was adjourned until the afternoon as Datuk Seri Anwar’s lawyers sought a date to review a higher court ruling, which refused to allow Anwar access to certain prosecution evidence.
Anwar’s previous convictions for sodomy and corruption followed his dismissal as deputy prime minister in 1998, and most international observers said at the time the trials were not conducted fairly, an accusation that haunts the current hearing.
“The evidence will have to be overwhelming in order to move beyond the perception that Najib Razak is using the judiciary to remove a political rival in a desperate and mistaken move to shore up his own position,” said Bridget Welsh, a Malaysia specialist as Singapore Management University.
If found guilty of the charge of sodomising a young male aide in a country where all homosexual acts are criminal, Datuk Seri Anwar, one of Asia’s best known politicians, could face 20 years in jail.
That would effectively end his political challenge to Datuk Seri Najib and the National Front coalition that the prime minister heads and remove a major thorn in the government’s side ahead of elections that must be held by 2013 at the latest.
Datuk Seri Anwar called for a strong turnout for his first day in court on his Twitter account, while his accuser Saiful Bukhari Azlan also said on Twitter he would be in court.
Outside the court, pamphlets supporting Saiful were scattered on the road, denouncing Anwar for not taking an oath on the Koran and for using appeals to frustrate the courts.
Anwar’s lawyers say they cannot defend their client properly without the prosecution’s medical evidence and that access has been blocked by a series of court rulings.
“One of my hands is tied and I am going into this boxing ring,” lawyer Sankara Nair told reporters outside the court. — Reuters
From Wall Street Journal:
More than a decade after he was beaten, tried and jailed, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim will once again face a Kuala Lumpur court today on charges of sodomy. The accusations are highly dubious and raise a serious question: Is this moderate Muslim democracy becoming a nation with no real rule of law?
The circumstances surrounding Mr. Anwar’s prosecution are suspiciously familiar to most Malaysians. In 1998, he was arrested as he was mounting serious arguments against the increasingly erratic government of United Malays National Organization chief Mahathir Mohamed. On a nearby page, Mr. Anwar’s former aide Munawar Anees describes being tortured and forced to confess to sodomy, a criminal offense in Malaysia. Mr. Anwar was convicted of sodomy and abuse of power and served six years in jail before the sodomy ruling was overturned in 2004. He was allowed to run for political office again in 2008, which he did, in earnest.
Mr. Anwar was arrested again in July 2008, a day after participating in his first nationally televised debate in more than a decade—an event that showcased his political skills and highlighted the growing momentum behind his three-party opposition coalition. He was accused of sodomy with a 23-year-old former aide, Saiful Bukhari Azlan. Mr. Saiful was taken into protective police custody after he made his allegation and has since rarely been seen in public. The government denies any political motivation for the charges. Mr. Saiful himself has not been charged.
As in 1998, the evidence in this case is thin at best. The police made a show of arresting Mr. Anwar, put him in jail for a night, and forced him to undergo a humiliating medical “examination.” The government then passed a bill in parliament to give the police expanded powers to collect DNA in criminal cases. Mr. Anwar’s lawyers claim they have a hospital report that shows no sodomy occurred.
Also troubling is the public involvement of Prime Minister Najib Razak, who was deputy leader at the time of Mr. Anwar’s 2008 arrest—and the man most politically threatened by Mr. Anwar’s popularity. Mr. Najib acknowledged that he was photographed with and spoke to Mr. Saiful after he was allegedly sodomized and before he went to the hospital for tests. Mr. Najib says he didn’t influence Mr. Saiful’s decision to press charges. Mr. Saiful couldn’t be reached for comment.
This story would sound familiar in a tinpot dictatorship. But Malaysia isn’t one. Along with Indonesia, it forms the backbone of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Its citizens today have far more access to news and information through the Internet than they did 12 years ago. They also have the power to vote.
And that may be the mechanism that keeps Malaysia free and honest. Ordinary citizens—including the majority ethnic Malays—increasingly support Mr. Anwar’s secular platform of religious tolerance, economic liberty and modernization. The opposition won five of 13 states in national elections in 2008, and it has since won seven of nine by-elections. Mr. Anwar was re-elected to parliament in a by-election the month after his arrest in 2008. There will likely be protests in front of the courthouse to show support for him.
The trial that begins today threatens domestic political unrest and undermines confidence, at home and around the world, in Malaysia’s rule of law.
Published in the Wall Street Journal, 1 February 2010