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Anwar Sodomy Case Postponed To 24 September

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim‘s Sodomy II trial was today postponed to Sept 24 following objections from his defence team over the Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail’s involvement.

Anwar at CourtThe objection was a clear sign of how politics will continue to play a major part in this highly-charged trial, in which Anwar has already accused the Attorney-General and the Inspector-General of Police of being involved in a conspiracy against him.

It also showed Anwar’s legal team would not be prepared to give an inch to the prosecution and was likely to challenge their every move.

Today, S.M. Komathy Suppiah, the Criminal Sessions Court judge presiding over the case, was supposed to set the dates for his trial to begin.

Instead, she surprised both the defence and prosecution teams when she moved to postpone the mention, pushing it almost two weeks to Sept 24.

It was done, she said, to allow Anwar’s legal team sufficient time to prepare their arguments against the prosecution which had suddenly applied to transfer the case to the High Court.

Though her decision lifted eyebrows and generated a buzz in the gallery, the general atmosphere inside the courtroom was one of casual formality.

Unlike Sodomy I 10 years ago, the atmosphere was relaxed despite the contentious legal arguments between the deputy public prosecutor, Datuk Yusuf Zainal Abiden, and Anwar’s lead defence counsel Sulaiman Abdullah.

Pawancheek Marican, who was Anwar’s counsel 10 years ago, quipped that whole affair today was an “English tea party.”

“Everyone was taking such great pains to be polite and civil to each other,” he laughed.

Yusuf had, this morning, produced a certificate, signed by the Attorney-General to transfer the case to the High Court as a matter of “public interest”. Sulaiman raised an objection after Yusuf submitted the certificate to Judge Komathy.

“I wish to place on record that the defence has been treated shabbily in this case. We have been asking, up to yesterday, what the prosecution plans to do,” Sulaiman stated.

He informed Judge Komathy that he had only received word from Yusuf late yesterday afternoon that the prosecution may move to transfer the case to the High Court. However, the plan was only confirmed 10 minutes before this morning’s hearing.

He argued for the application to be rejected on the grounds that the certificate had been signed by the A-G, who was a party with vested interests, having been implicated in establishing false evidence against Anwar in the Sodomy I and corruption trials 10 years ago.

Even as he described how his “learned colleague” Yusuf had been placed in a “difficult and embarrassing position” in carrying out his duty, Sulaiman nevertheless challenged the validity of the certificate, quoting several reports whereby the prime minister himself had issued a directive to Abdul Gani not to involve himself in the Sodomy II case in any way.

“According to Datuk Yusuf, this is something only the Attorney-General can do… For Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail to sign the application for the transfer to the High Court… he’s not just a chief clerk to sign any document in front of him,” Sulaiman said, eliciting broad smiles and laughter, including from the court officials on duty.

In the middle of his tirade against the public prosecutor’s office – witnessed by a squirming Yusuf – for attempting to delay the trial and inconveniencing the trials of “all the people on capital crime cases waiting for remand,” Judge Komathy interrupted Sulaiman and asked if he needed more time to do his research.

Despite being caught off guard by the question, Sulaiman quickly recovered his poise and demurred: “Yes, Your Honour, I would be grateful.”

Judge Komathy then announced that the hearing would continue in two weeks. “Let them do research to find out whether this court has jurisdiction or not.”

Under Section 418 (A) of the Criminal Procedure Code, the certificate of transfer to move a case to be heard in the High Court must be signed by the A-G personally.

According to lawyer Saiful Izham Ramli, one of Anwar’s nine lawyers, this is the first time a challenge has been made to the certificate of transfer on the grounds that the A-G has personal interest in the case. It has set a precedent, he added.

“Usually, any judge will accept the certificate to transfer. In this case, the judge wants to hear our arguments. It’s very important.

“Previously, in all other cases, there has been no objection from the defence. This time, we want to challenge,” stressed Saiful.

Sulaiman is confident that Sodomy II will be heard and decided in Judge Komathy’s court.

“Definitely! There’s nothing to stop that from happening,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

“She’s more than capable. She’s got 26 years in the judicial service, most of that time on the bench. She’s equal to the High Court judges.

“This is a judge who lives up to the court. She is fair to both sides,” said Sulaiman.

Anwar himself expressed his gratitude to the judge for the small allowance granted his lawyers. However, he vented his frustration at the delay in his third trial.

Speaking to the media outside the courtroom, he said that he viewed the attempt by the public prosecutor to transfer the case to the High Court as an “ambush”.

Source: The Malaysian Insider

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