Wednesday September 10, 2008 MYT 6:03:51 PM
Anwar's sodomy case postponed to Sept 24 (update 5)
By CECIL FUNG and LESTER KONG
KUALA LUMPUR: The prosecution wants to transfer Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy case from the Sessions Court where he was charged last month to the High Court.
But the defence objected to the move saying it was unnecessary and that the transfer certificate had been signed by Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, who was to have no involvement in the case.
Lead counsel Sulaiman Abdullah complained about the shabby treatment by the prosecution, who only informed the defence about the transfer application at the eleventh hour.
“We asked them what was the plan and up to Tuesday, we were told that there was no decision.
“On Tuesday afternoon, senior DPP (and AG’s Chambers head of prosecution) Datuk Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden was kind enough to call me to say that they most probably would ask for a transfer.
“Only 10 minutes ago when DPP Mohd Yusof appeared in court were we informed that they were indeed going to ask for a transfer,” the veteran lawyer said.
Describing the move as an “ambush”, Sulaiman said it left the defence to argue “practically out of the air.”
“In any case, we are objecting to the transfer,” he said.
DPP Mohd Yusof pointed out that the prosecution had already indicated the possibility of the transfer when the Opposition Leader was charged on Aug 7 and that the matter was only decided upon late Tuesday evening.
Sulaiman rebutted saying: “Just like a young lady saying ‘I may marry you”, similarly they said ‘we may transfer’.”
“We need to prepare,” he said.
Sulaiman said the defence had been informed through a statement by the Prime Minister that Abdul Gani would play no part in the case following a police report Anwar lodged against him and Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan alleging that they fabricated evidence in the investigation into the 1998 incident where he (Anwar) was punched in a lock-up by then IGP Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Noor.
The veteran lawyer said the AG would have to apply his mind to the circumstances of the case before he could sign the transfer certificate.
“He’s the one who decides if it involved public interest and to transfer this case to the High Court and delay other cases where the accused persons face capital punishment,” he said.
Komathy then interjected and asked Sulaiman if the defence required more time to debate the matter, to which the lawyer replied that he would appreciate it as it was an important issue.
The judge then turned to DPP Mohd Yusof to ask if he had any objections to a two-week adjournment.
“I’ve read law reports in which judges from the High Court and the Court of Appeal paid tribute to you saying you’re a fair DPP. I’m sure you have no objections to this,” she said, drawing some laughter. Sulaiman agreed.
However, DPP Mohd Yusof argued that two weeks was too long but the judge was firm in her decision, saying all parties needed to be given sufficient time to prepare.
After Komathy fixed Sept 24 to hear the arguments, Sulaiman said the defence had no qualms about the case being heard before her.
The lawyer pointed out that the courts were of the same size, and that Komathy, who said she had been in service for 26 years, was an experienced and competent judge.
Police presence in the court complex was at a maximum Wednesday, with several truckloads of Federal Reserve Unit personnel being put on standby apart from armed policemen.
Compared to Aug 7, the police were more prepared to handle the anticipated crowd this time, vetting everyone who went up to level 4 where the Sessions Court was located.
However, there were unconfirmed reports of lawyers having difficulty getting to the other courts on the same level as a result of the tight security measures.
Anwar, who turned up in court at 9.30am with his family, PKR leaders and supporters, appeared relaxed, smiling the entire time.
After the proceedings, the PKR de facto leader described the prosecution’s move as a “trial by ambush” as his defence team was only told about the transfer 10 minutes before the start of Wednesday’s hearing.
He said it showed that the prosecution was waiting for instructions from their political masters.
Anwar also said Abdul Gani had signed the transfer certificate to “select a judge at their pleasure” because he did not trust the Sessions Court.
Speaking to reporters earlier, Anwar said the Sept 16 deadline for the opposition to form a new government was still on track.
Anwar said, "Is Sept 16 on track? Very much so. We will comment on that issue in the next one or two days. Next trip, Taipei!"
The PKR adviser was charged on Aug 7 with sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan. He pleaded not guilty.
He is accused of committing the offence at Desa Damansara Condominium in Jalan Setiakasih, Bukit Damansara, between 3.01pm and 4.30pm on June 26.
If convicted, he can be jailed up to 20 years and whipped for voluntarily committing unnatural sex under Section 377B of the Penal Code.