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Court Refuses To Give Anwar More Time To Find New Lawyer

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on July 16, 2009

SUARA KEADILAN

By Wong Choon Mei

The Kuala Lumpur High Court has refused to grant Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s more time to appoint a new lead counsel after his lawyer discharged himself due to illness.

“This is bad news for me. I had great confidence in Sulaiman,” Anwar later told reporters.

“As it stands, the vibes are not too good. I need time to consult with my lawyers but the judge wants to proceed.”

Sivarasa Rasiah, one of Anwar’s lawyers, appealed to the court, saying that the reform icon was entitled to automatic trial postponement if the counsel discharged himself.

Sivarasa also said since it took the prosecution a year to bring the case to court, a short postponement would not hurt anyone now. But the lead prosecutor objected. The judge then ordered the hearing to proceed

Insisting the charges were a conspiracy to kill off Anwar’s political career, Sivarasa told the court the defence team would proceed “but under protest”.

“I am confident there will be no injustice. The request for adjournment is denied and the case will go on,” said High Court judge Mohd Zabidin Mohd Diah.

Application to compel government to furnish key documents

A prominent lawyer, Sulaiman is in hospital for treatment and has sought to be discharged not just from Anwar’s trial but from all his other cases.

The court then began hearing the reform icon’s application to compel the government to allow him access to key evidence needed to prepare his defence.

Edward Bon, another of Anwar’s nine-member legal team, told the court that the prosecution was compelled by law to provide evidence to the defence three weeks before trial began, not during trial.

He said his team was not “fishing” for evidence but asking for basic materials such as the June 25-27 CCTV tape recordings of the alleged crime scenes.

He also revealed that until now the prosecution had failed to provide the defence with list of witnesses it plans to call for Anwar’s trial. This is a basic legal right under criminal law.

Another colleague Amer Hamzah Arshad also said while the defence had the final chemists’ report, it needed to look into the note-sheets, such as on DNA, to determine exact methodology, a vital criteria to establish if the data was fairly obtained.

For example, in the first round of sodomy charges brought against Anwar in 1998, the prosecution suppressed key medical evidence showing there no signs of anal penetration on alleged complainant Sukma Dermawan, Amer said.

Anwar, who was found guilty and spent six years in jail, was later acquitted and the charges overturned. Sukma has since retracted his statement, saying his report incriminating Anwar had been tortured out of him by the Malaysian police.

Anwar’s lawyers then submitted that if the court rejected their bid for full disclosure, then the prosecution must not be allowed to enter evidence that was not submitted three weeks prior to trial.

Adjourned to Thursday

Lead prosecutor Yusof Zainal Abdin tried to immediately shoot down the defence’s presentation. He said his team had already supplied all admissible documents under Section 51(a) of the law, which states that only copies of written evidence and not blood samples and slides needed to be provided.

According to Yusof, the medical reports done on complainant Saiful Bukhari Azlan were neutral and the prosecution did not need to extend a copy to Anwar’s team, although a copy of the Hospital Kuala Lumpur report was still given.

The court then adjourned the hearing to Thursday, when Anwar’s lawyers will continue their rebuttal.

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. The reform icon, regarded by many Malaysians as their prime minister-in-waiting, has been accused of sodomising Saiful, a former staff, in June 2008.

He has pleaded not guilty and accused Prime Minister Najib Razak of framing him. The charges came about as Anwar was preparing to mount his parliamentary comeback.

The U.S. state department has 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.

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