It has been almost 12 years since Anwar Ibrahim, newly sacked as deputy prime minister, was first charged with trumped-up charges of sodomy and corruption, and subsequently put through two trials which were condemned around the world as manifestly flawed and politically motivated.
He spent six years in detention, in solitary confinement throughout, after his conviction on the corruption charge. Later at the final appeal against the sodomy conviction, he was acquitted and released on 2 September 2004.
Now, with Anwar once more poised to lead the opposition coalition into the next general elections – with good prospects of taking over the reins of government, the nightmare is starting all over again.
On 16 July 2008, Anwar, then 61 years old, was arrested on a new charge of sodomy, after a police report was lodged by Saiful Bukhari, a 23 year-old junior aide in his office alleging several incidents of sodomy without consent.
It is clear that the charge of consensual sodomy (why not without consent as in the police report?) is, again, politically motivated, a renewed attempt to sabotage the opposition and Anwar’s leadership, both of which were revived dramatically since the 8 March 2008 general elections.
Otherwise, how else can you explain the accusation that a warga emas with a well known serious back problem can forcefully sodomise a young man – not once but several times!
The new case – its facts and the way it is being conducted – looks alarmingly like the earlier ones. In the earlier cases, they were marked by:
i) political interference;
ii) falsification of evidence;
iii) blackmailing of prosecution witnesses as well as several of Anwar’s close friends and associates;
iv) harassment of defence lawyers and also several civil servants who did not speak, report or act according to the recommended script;
v) the court’s rejection of documents, and refusal to allow witness testimony, which was favourable to the accused; and
a string of unfair or questionable rulings and decisions by the judges both during the course of the trial and in the ultimate judgment of the cases, which often put a premature end to the defence counsel’s line of questioning.
In the present case, the alleged victim is known to have had contact (and in fact testified in court) with senior police officers and high-level UMNO politicians, including the Prime Minister and his lovely first lady, before he made his police report against Anwar.
Ominously, the main members of the prosecution team were all involved in the earlier cases, which involved fabrication of evidence and suppression of evidence favourable to the defendant, but an application to disqualify this tainted prosecution team met with failure.
Anwar’s defence team, despite appealing right to the Federal Court, has also been denied several important documents to help them mount an effective defence, and there are unmistakable signs of wrongful cooperation between the police, the AG’s Chambers and the judiciary.
The new case is being pursued despite the absence of evidence, most crucially that all four doctors, including three specialists, who examined the alleged victim, reported that there was no evidence of penetration:
No conclusive clinical findings suggestive of penetration to the anus/rectum and no significant defensive wound on the body of the patient – Kuala Lumpur General Hospital report, 28 June, 2008.
But lo and behold! One of the doctors, Dr. Mohd Razali Ibrahim has now testified that because there was presence of semen in the swabs taken, therefore there is now penetration!
Hallelujah! A miracle unseen since more than 2,000 years ago! Hallelujah!
Only in our criminal justice system can the prosecutors and the police fabricate evidence at will, witnesses including medical professionals mislead and lie under oath, and the judges (most of them anyway) just accept everything by making ridiculous arguments that great contortionist judges – Augustine Paul, Ariffin Jaka, Eusoff Chin, Pajan Singh Gill and the likes would be proud of.
The defence team as expected is now facing similar difficulties as in the previous trials – hostile and uncooperative prosecutors and judges who have scuttled all attempts to obtain a fair and independent trial by rejecting all interlocutory applications.
This persecution and blatant injustice should not come as a surprise as the case should be seen in the broader context of systematic harassment and attacks on the opposition and its elected representatives, often employing the AG’s Chambers to prosecute them on oppressive, frivolous or even fabricated charges, via the police and the MACC.
What this ongoing trial has clearly shown again and again is that in politically important cases, the criminal justice system can be manipulated, and the judiciary, the AG’s Chambers, the police and even government hospital doctors will all play along.
I just don?t understand how these people can walk around without shame – pretend that all is innocent and alright among their peers, friends and family members when it is obvious that they have lost sight on why they became judges, prosecutors, policemen and doctors in the first place.
Sure from time to time there are brave judges who have decided politically important cases independently, i.e. in accordance to the laws and facts, fairness and justice, but how many of such cases, and where are these judges now? Probably languishing in unimportant commercial/ family law divisions or getting transferred to remote locations, and watching compliant junior judges get promoted while they are passed over.
The question now is: Should Anwar and the defence team go through this sham trial when we know for a fact that Anwar at some point will be convicted, even though everyone knows that if the accused was not Anwar but instead a nobody accused of consensual sodomy, the case would have ended at the investigation stage?
Maybe there will a miracle?
Or maybe we can just work towards Putrajaya and ensure that the country gets a criminal justice system that it truly deserves.
Eric Paulsen is a member of Lawyers for Liberty, a newly formed human rights and law reform initiative.