Anwar Fails In Challenging Prison Order Over Physical Contact

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PUTRAJAYA, Apr 12 – Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his family have once again failed in their challenge of a decision by the Sungai Buloh Prison Director disallowing him to have physical contact with family members during their visits to the prison, instead of being separated by a glass screen and speaking only through the telephone.

This follows the Court of Appeal’s dismissal today of the appeal brought by Anwar and his family against the High Court’s refusal of their judicial review application over Anwar’s right to have physical contact with his family.

A three member panel of judges, comprising Justices Datuk Ahmadi Asnawi, Datuk Vernon Ong Lam Kiat and Datuk Suraya Othman, held that the appeal brought by Anwar and nine other appellants had no merit.

According to Justice Ahmadi, the letter of the Sungai Buloh Prison Director, dated March 14, 2016, rejecting Anwar and his family’s request to have physical contact during visits, was reasonable as it did not contravene prison rules.

“The letter states that it would consider the request on a case-by-case basis. Hence, this is not unreasonable and disproportionate. We are of the view that there is no merit in the appeal by the appellants. We dismiss the appeal with no order as to costs,” said Justice Ahmadi.

The panel made the ruling after hearing submissions from lawyer N. Surendran, representing the appellants, and Senior Federal Counsel Shamsul Bolhassan, acting for the Sungai Buloh Prison Director, the Prisons Commissioner-General and the Home Minister, the respondents.

Besides Anwar, 70, the other appellants were his wife, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, 65, and their four daughters, Nurul Izzah, 37, Nurul Nuha, 34, Nurul Ilham, 30, and Nurul Iman, 27, Nurul Izzah’s sons, Raja Nur Safiyah Raja Ahmad Shahrir Iskandar, 11, and Raja Ahmad Harith, nine; and Nurul Nuha’s sons, Sulaimaan Mohamad Khairul and Yahya, aged six and five, respectively.

They sought an order to revoke a decision made on March 14, 2016, by the Sungai Buloh Prison Director in not allowing Anwar to have physical contact with family members during their visits. They claimed that during the visits, they were separated by a glass screen and could only speak with each other through a telephone.

Anwar, who is currently serving a five-year prison sentence after being found guilty of sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, is allowed visitors once every three weeks. He is expected to be released from prison on June 8, 2018.

In a letter, dated March 2, 2016, sent through his solicitor to the three respondents, Anwar applied to be allowed to have physical contact with his family members during their visits, but it was rejected by the Sungai Buloh Prison Director in the letter dated March 14, 2016. — Bernama

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