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Update Anwar loses final bid to strike out sodomy charge

May 5, 2010
Written by Chua Sue-Ann
Tuesday, 04 May 2010 12:49

PUTRAJAYA: Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim failed in his final bid to strike out the sodomy charge against him after the Federal Court dismissed his appeal on Tuesday, May 4, paving the way for his keenly watched trial to resume on May 10.

Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Arifin Zakaria, who read out the unanimous decision of the three-member Federal Court bench, said the Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL) medical report “should be read in its entirety” and did not support Anwar’s application for the charge to be struck out at this stage.

Arifin sat with Federal Court Judge Datuk Seri James Foong Cheng Yuen and Court of Appeal Judge Datuk Suriyadi Halim Omar on Tuesday.

During submissions earlier, Anwar’s lead counsel Karpal Singh pointed to the HKL medical examination report which apparently found “no conclusive clinical findings suggestive of penetration to the anus or rectum” on the body of Anwar’s accuser and former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

Karpal submitted that given the medical report’s findings, Anwar should not have been prosecuted and that there had been “a miscarriage of justice, oppression, mala fide and abuse of court process”.

“The fact that the trial has proceeded ought not to weigh on your lordships’ minds,” Karpal said.

Karpal also argued that the medical report, which he argued was substantive evidence, could contradict Saiful’s allegation of being sodomised, possibly making Anwar’s 24-year-old accuser liable for impeachment.

Lead prosecutor Solicitor-General II Datuk Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden reiterated that the medical report was not conclusive evidence but would merely corroborate the doctors’ testimonies when they were summoned to court to give evidence.

Mohd Yusof argued that the court should not be invited to rule on the credibility of the prosecution’s case at this point.

“I think it’s premature for anyone to suggest there is no evidence. The doctors have not even come yet. It’s too premature to talk about the credibility of the witness.

“Your remedy is at the close of prosecution’s case,” Mohd Yusof told Karpal.

The lead prosecutor said HKL’s report was only “half a report” as it only stated opinions on the physical examination conducted. Mohd Yusof said prosecution would still need to call chemists to testify on the samples taken for DNA analysis.

Mohd Yusof also accused Anwar of attempting to “stop” or “injunct” prosecutors from calling witnesses but Karpal disagreed, saying that Anwar was seeking for the charge to be struck out and not for a stay of the trial.

“It’s not premature… when something is obviously unsustainable. It’s an obvious case where there ought not to have been the formulation of a charge, let alone prosecution,” said Karpal, who is the DAP national chairman.

Karpal said it was “impossible” for semen to be found in Saiful’s anal region when there was no evidence of penetration.

“If it (semen) is there it can only mean one thing and that it was planted there,” Karpal said.

Anwar had gone to the Federal Court to appeal the Court of Appeal’s Feb 17 decision which upheld the Kuala Lumpur High Court’s earlier decision to not strike out the sodomy charge against him.

The Court of Appeal had held that the charge for committing carnal intercourse against the order of nature, under Section 377B of the Penal Code, could not be thrown out solely on the strength of medical reports.

High Court Judge Datuk Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah had on Dec 1, 2009 ruled it was “up to the prosecution” to decide how they would argue their case and the court could only determine whether there was indeed penetration after hearing testimony from witnesses during the trial.

The court is scheduled to hear from at least four doctors, including one Hospital Pusrawi medical officer and three HKL doctors who had examined Saiful on June 28, 2008, two days after the alleged sodomy took place.

The three HKL doctors expected to take the stand are: Dr Khairul Nizam Hassan, Dr Mohd Razali Ibrahim and Dr Siew Sheue Feng. Anwar is planning to bring three foreign medical experts to give evidence.

The former deputy prime minister had pleaded not guilty when charged with sodomising Saiful at the Desa Damansara condominium in Bukit Damansara, Kuala Lumpur on June 26, 2008.

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Update Penang makes history with Speakers’ Square


Written by Regina William
Tuesday, 04 May 2010 12:29

GEORGE TOWN: Penang launched the country’s first Speakers’ Square, along the lines of Hyde Park in London which the state government billed as an important milestone for democracy and freedom of speech in Penang and Malaysia.

The Speakers’ Square, located at the Esplanade field, is open on Wednesdays and Sundays from 6pm to 10pm. Up to four speakers will be allowed at a time, but they will be prohibited from using loud speakers.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who launched the square in the presence of NGO representatives, said the Speakers’ Square represented the platform of democracy for all Malaysians, the aspirations to enjoy the right to freedom of expression and the hopes of all Malaysians for a civil society.

Picture of Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng officiates the opening of  the Speakers Square at the Esplanade field. Photo by Regina WilliamPicture of Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng officiates the opening of the Speakers Square at the Esplanade field. Photo by Regina William

Among those present were former Bar Council president Sulaiman Abdullah and Datuk Anwar Fazal, founder of numerous NGOs in Penang.

“The opening of this Speakers’ Square is a sign of the maturing of our democracy,” Lim said. “This corner will enable the rakyat to have the opportunity to express their views and opinions freely while ensuring that their rights are being protected.

“Speakers’ Square should be an avenue to allow the citizens and individuals to have gatherings and candlelight vigils, peaceful demonstrations, press conferences, various other forms of peaceful and artistic forms of expression and to demonstrate their citizens rights,” he said.

“It is time for Penang to show the rest of Malaysia that the thrust of participatory democracy is alive and well in this state and it embraces the value of freedom and human rights,” he added.

He said Penang’s Pakatan Rakyat state government was based on 3Es, of empowering the people, enriching the rakyat and enabling the people.

“The Speakers’ Square fulfils the aspirations of empowering the people by encouraging citizens to exercise their constitutional rights under Article 10(1)(a) of the Federal Constitution of freedom of speech and expression, and Article 10(1)(b) where all citizens have the right to assembly peacefully,” he added.

He hoped Penangites would use the facility responsibly to demonstrate their views, exercise their rights by giving them voice to speak.

However, he cautioned them to be mindful that police could take action, as police have said they would not be able to provide legal immunity from prosecution.

“I wish to urge the police to exercise judicious discretion and allow views to be freely expressed,” he added.

Lim said while the Speakers’ Square may result in unfair criticisms, including of the state government he said he believed everyone was mature enough to listen to differing views and allow people to express their views freely.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng who launched the square said the Speakers Square represented the platform of democracy for all Malaysians, the aspirations to enjoy the right to freedom of expression and the hopes of all Malaysians for a civil society.

Among the representatives of non-governmental organisations (NGO) present were former Bar Council president Sulaiman Abdullah and the founder of numerous NGOs in Penang, Datuk Anwar Fazal.

“The opening of this Speakers Square is a sign of the maturing of our democracy. This corner will enable the rakyat to have the opportunity to express their views and opinions freely while ensuring that their rights are being protected,” Lim said.

“Speakers Square should be an avenue to allow the citizens and individuals to have gatherings and candle vigil peaceful demonstrations, press conference, various other forms of peaceful and artistic form of expression and to demonstrate their citizens rights.

“It is time for Penang to show the rest of Malaysia that the thrust of participatory democracy is alive and well in this state and it embraces the value of freedom and human rights.”

He said Penang’s Pakatan Rakyat state government was based on 3Es: Empowering the people, enriching the rakyat and enabling the people.

“The Speakers Square fulfills the aspirations of empowering the people by encouraging citizens to exercise their constitutional rights under Article 10(1)(a) of the Federal Constitution of freedom of speech and expression and Article 10(1)(b) where all citizens have the right to assembly peacefully,” he added.

He hoped Penangites would use the facility responsibly to demonstrate their views, exercise their rights by giving them voice to speak.

However, he cautioned them to be mindful that police could take action as police have said they would not be able to provide legal immunity from prosecution.

“I wish to urge the police to exercise judicious discretion and allow views to be freely expressed,” he added.

Lim said while the Speakers Square may result in unfair criticisms, including of the state government, he said he believed everyone was mature enough to listen to differing views and allow people to express their views freely.

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