KUALA LUMPUR: The sodomy trial of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will finally begin in the High Court here today, 18 months after he was charged for sodomising a former young aide.
Justice Datuk Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah yesterday afternoon fixed proceedings to begin at 2.30pm today after he rejected a bid by Anwar to stay the trial.
The judge held that there was no special circumstances in law proceedings to warrant Anwar to stay the trial.
Earlier yesterday, Mohamad Zabidin had adjourned Anwar’s application to stay his sodomy trial to yesterday afternoon.
Anwar’s lead counsel Karpal Singh said the adjournment was sought because they had this morning filed an application to review the Federal Court’s refusal to allow Anwar access to documents from the prosecution for his defence.
Mohamad Zabidin had said if no date was fixed by the Federal Court to hear the review application, the High Court would proceed to hear Anwar’s stay application.
Originally, the court was set for the trial yesterday but it first had to hear Anwar’s application to stay the proceedings.
Anwar, 63, arrived at the court at 9am accompanied by his wife Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail, Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim, Kelantan Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat and DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang.
Anwar, the Parti Keadilan Rakyat advisor and Permatang Pauh MP, is accused of sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan at Unit 11-5-1, Kondominium Desa Damansara, Jalan Setiakasih, Bukit Damansara, between 3.01pm and 4.30pm on June 26, 2008.
He is charged under section 377B of the Penal Code which carries a maximum 20 years’ jail and whipping, if convicted.
The courtroom was packed with local and foreign media, Anwar’s family members, supporters and members of the public.
Also present were Saiful’s father Azlan Mohd Lazim and former Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng.
Lawyer Zamri Idrus is holding a watching brief for Saiful.
After the proceedings were adjourned, the defence team comprising Karpal, Datuk Param Cumaraswamy, Datuk C V Prabakharan, S N Nair, Mohd Radzlan Jalaludin and Marisa Regina Fernando, rushed to the Palace of Justice to meet Chief Justice Tun Zaki Tun Azmi to get an early date for the review hearing.
The prosecution team comprising Solicitor-general II Datuk Mohamed Yusof Zainal Abiden, and deputy public prosecutors Datuk Nordin Hassan, Mohamad Hanafiah Zakaria, Wong Chiang Kiat, and Noorin Badaruddin also joined them.
However, they were unable to see either Zaki or Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Alauddin Mohd Sheriff as according to Karpal, he was informed that Zaki was attending a meeting in Kuala Lumpur while Alauddin was having a medical appointment.
Karpal told reporters in Putrajaya that he later spoke to Alauddin on the phone, who agreed to meet them today.
“We don’t want a delay but on the other hand we want to exhaust all legal remedies which are available to Anwar. The trial should not be rushed. He should be allowed to exhaust all legal avenues,” Karpal said.
At the outset of yesterday’s proceedings, Karpal informed the court that he had filed the review application at 8.40am via Messrs S N Nair and Partners at the Federal Court Registry, in Putrajaya.
He said he would also apply to the Chief Justice to stay the trial and if he (Zaki) made the decision, the High Court was bound by it.
In convincing the judge, Karpal asked the court to allow the defence team to see the Chief Justice to exhaust their final avenue to obtain the key documents for the defence.
“The decision by the Federal Court was made on Jan 29. This morning was the soonest date that enabled us to file the review application. Give us an opportunity to see Tun Zaki and we will come back here at 2.30pm,” he said.
Mohamed Yusof said the prosection team had no objection to the defence application, but stressed that the team was ready to commence the trial.
Mohamad Zabidin said if no date was given on the review application or no decision on the stay application by the Federal Court, the court would resume at 2.30pm to hear Anwar’s bid to stay the trial and the main trial.
In the review application, filed together with his affidavit, Anwar had stated that the Federal Court had power to hear and review its decision under the Rule 137 of the Rules of the Federal Court.
In his affidavit affirmed by him, Anwar said that the Federal Court judges had misdirected themselves seriously in deciding against his application.
Among the key documents sought include Mohd Saiful’s statements and DNA samples, the examination notes of Dr Osman Abdul Hamid from Pusrawi Hospital, the statements by condominium owner Hassanuddin Abdul Hamid, and those of three doctors from the Kuala Lumpur Hospital, a chemist’s notes and medical reports and CCTV footages of the condominium at the alleged time.
On Jan 29, the Federal Court, comprising Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Arifin Zakaria and Federal Court Judges Datuk Abdull Hamid Embong and Datuk Md Raus Sharif, in rejecting Anwar’s appeal to have the documents, ruled that an accused person was prohibited at the pre-trial stage from accessing documents that were evidence in which the prosecution proposed to prove in the trial. — Bernama