KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 28 – Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s claim of a political conspiracy in his sodomy charge and conviction was presented in the second round of submissions to the Federal Court which is hearing the opposition leader’s appeal to overturn his guilty verdict. Anwar’s lawyer N. Surendran, took over from lead counsel Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram in continuing the defence’s submission to the five-member bench.
Surendran said the complainant, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan had met with senior police officer Senior Assistant Commissioner (SAC) Datuk Mohd Rodwan Mohd Yusof on June 24, 2008, before the alleged sodomy on June 26. He had also met with then Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on June 24, and had also made contact with then Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan on June 25, 2008, Surendran said.
Saiful had admitted to these meetings, Surendran told the Federal Court. “These are not mere allegations of conspiracy plucked out of thin air. There are dates of meetings,” he submitted. Surendran said Anwar had given a statement from the dock during the trial “not once but five times”. “Unfortunately, the Court of Appeal took those statements (in its judgments) as though there was no explanation,” he said.
The dates of the meetings and Saiful’s admission were evidence of a “pre-arranged plan” which supported Anwar’s statement from the dock, Surendran added. He said such statements by the accused should have been weighed, but the Court of Appeal had disregarded them. In court this afternoon, Surendran read out excerpts of Saiful’s cross-examination during the trial conducted by the late Karpal Singh. The excerpts showed the evidence of a conspiracy, Surendran said.
But the High Court did not review Anwar’s statement from the dock and the Court of Appeal later regarded it as “a mere denial” of the charge. Day One of the hearing today ended with the court telling Surendran to continue submitting on the relevance of a statement from the dock tomorrow. The court adjourned the hearing till 9.30am tomorrow.
Anwar, 67, was sentenced to five years’ jail by the appellate court but has obtained a stay of execution pending the outcome of his present appeal in the Federal Court, which is expected to give him a hearing until Thursday. The opposition leader was charged with sodomy against Saiful at an apartment in Damansara on June 26, 2008. He was acquitted by the High Court in January 2012 but then found guilty by the Court of Appeal in March this year.
Surendran is one of Anwar’s 14 lawyers on the defence team, which is led by Sri Ram, a prominent retired Federal Court judge. The Federal Court’s five-man bench is led by Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria, while the other judges are Tan Sri Raus Sharif, Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Embong, Tan Sri Suriyadi Halim Omar and Datuk Ramly Ali.
This is Anwar’s second sodomy trial. The first was in 1998, after he was sacked from the government, while holding the post of deputy prime minister and finance minister. He was then accused of sodomising his former driver and acquitted by the Federal Court in 2004. This time, Anwar’s political career could come to an end if the apex court upholds the Court of Appeal’s conviction and sustains the sentence.