KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3 – Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim returns to court today, the fifth day in what was supposed to be a two-day trial, in his bid to convince the Federal Court to overturn the Court of Appeal’s decision which had found him guilty of sodomy. Anwar was accused of sodomising his former aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, six years ago, resulting in a series of trials that grabbed headlines, both locally and internationally.
This final Sodomy 2 appeal, as it has been dubbed, started off on Oct 28 with a surprise as former Federal Court judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram suddenly appeared to lead Anwar’s defence team of 14 people, facing off against lead prosecutor Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, a star defence lawyer in his own right.
Anwar, upon arriving at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya, was greeted by a few hundred supporters, who were blocked from approaching the courthouse by a barricade. Their number exceeded 500 by noon the next day. However, the number of supporters eventually shrank to less than a hundred for the remainder of the week as the proceedings dragged on, though they always outnumbered those who appeared outside to support Mohd Saiful.
Outside the courthouse, minor clashes erupted among Anwar’s supporters over the next two days, the first of which came about after some tried to burn a T-shirt showing Mohd Saiful’s face. The second incident, on the following day, started when a small group of supporters attempted to approach the courthouse by knocking over the barricade set up by police.
After the group was foiled in its attempts, eggs were thrown, striking two photographers covering the trial. In the courtroom, a five-member Federal Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Arifin Zakaria, first heard Gopal Sri Ram argue against the credibility of Mohd Saiful, particularly in relation to the lubricant claimed to have been used in the incident.
In his submission, Gopal Sri Ram also said that the function of the Court of Appeal was not to make its own findings but to review the trial judgment. He argued that the hearing had been rushed. He was followed by N. Surendran, whose submission was based on an allegation of a pre-arranged plan and political conspiracy, along with Anwar’s statement from the dock.
Surendran said Mohd Saiful had admitted to meeting various notables around the time of the incident, including then-Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Senior Assistant Commissioner (SAC) II Mohd Rodwan Mohd Yusof, then-IGP Tan Sri Musa Hassan, Ezam Md Noor and other Umno personalities. Surendran was followed by two children of the late Karpal Singh, who was Anwar’s lead counsel in the trial till he passed away in a traffic incident.
Sangeet Kaur Deo said items taken from the lock-up were in doubt, including a toothbrush, a towel and a plastic bottle. Sangeet said there was no link between the DNA of semen allegedly found inside Mohd Saiful’s rectum and the DNA evidence taken from the said items. She said Anwar’s arrest was unlawful and the items were obtained by deception and trickery.
She also highlighted the failure of the judge to compel production of medical notes used in the medical reports of Dr Mohd Razali Ibrahim and Dr Siew Shueu Fong. Ramkarpal Singh Deo alleged that government DNA experts and labs had not adhered to international standards and guidelines. The DNA experts did not provide notes, documents and the guidelines relied upon when questioned by the defence, he added.
He also stated that the DNA samples were unpreserved for 96 hours before they were handed to the DNA expert, but were somehow in pristine condition, aside from contamination by an unidentified male and there was no need for the investigating officer to reopen a sealed container to label the samples that were already marked.
When it was the turn of the prosecution, Muhammad Shafee argued that Anwar’s statement from the dock, claiming the accusations were a conspiracy, amounted to contempt of court. The lead prosecutor also said Anwar had unreasonably attacked the police for tampering with evidence and that the bag was not tamper-proof, and could be opened and resealed.
He said the relationship between Anwar and Mohd Saiful was similar to sexual harassment at the work place. The trial will continue today with a half-day submission, and the Federal Court is expected to give its judgment tomorrow.