COURT GRANTS ANWAR ONLY PARTIAL ACCESS TO KEY EVIDENCE
Malaysian Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim has won a partial victory in the first round of a grueling battle to free himself from sodomy charges he says are trumped by Prime Minister Najib Razak to destroy his political comeback.
On Thursday, the Kuala Lumpur High Court ordered the public prosecutor to allow Anwar’s legal team access to most of the key evidence it needs to prepare his defence but it stopped short at vital DNA samples and video testimony.
The defence had sought a court order after the prosecution refused to furnish it with a full set of original documents, witness statements, CCTV recordings and other exhibits including DNA samples and video testimony given by the complainant Saiful Bukhari Azlan to the police on June 30, 2008.
Now, based on the order granted by Judge Mohd Zabidin Mohd Diah, it will get to inspect the CCTV recordings of the alleged crime scene, the examination notes of the doctors who attended to Saiful at the government-run Hospital Kuala Lumpur and witness statements from seven individuals.
The judge had a day ago had refused to grant Anwar more time to find a new lead counsel after his long-time lawyer Sulaiman Abdullah discharged himself due to serious illness.
Political persecution of a PM-in-waiting
The reform icon, regarded by many Malaysians as a prime minister-in-waiting, was accused of sodomising Saiful, a former staff, in June 2008.
He has pleaded not guilty and accused Najib of framing him. The charges came about as Anwar was preparing to mount his parliamentary comeback. Despite the ensuing scandal, the charismatic leader managed to win the Permatang Pauh by-election with a landslide majority.
The U.S. state department has also gone on record to say that it believes that the sodomy charges against Anwar – both in 1998 and now – were politically motivated to kill his career. If found guilty, the 61-year old Anwar can be jailed for up to 20 years.
Meanwhile, the court is also due to hear an application from Anwar to dismiss the entire prosecution team for bias because key figures involved in the current case, such as Attorney-General Gani Patail, have been named in other cases involving fabrication of evidence against him.
There is also another application to strike out the entire sodomy charge as two hospital reports – including from the government-run Hospital Kuala Lumpur – showed no evidence that Saiful had been sodomised at all.
If all his applications are dismissed, then his trial proper will begin.