Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Anwar wants judge dropped for ‘prejudging’ trial

Anwar says the judge accepted the prosecution’s arguments wholesale

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim now wants Datuk Mohd Zabidin Mohd Diah to step down as the judge in the Sodomy II trial for “prejudging” the trial even before the Opposition leader had a chance to enter his defence.

Mohd Zabidin had ruled on May 16 that Anwar would have to defend himself on a charge of sodomising former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan three years ago, and concluded there was a prima facie case against the 63-year-old Pakatan Rakyat (PR) de facto leader.

The Permatang Pauh MP will be filing a motion for Mohd Zabidin’s recusal at the Kuala Lumpur High Court tomorrow morning.

The PKR de facto leader has accused the judge of bias in his May 16 decision for ruling that there was a prima facie case in the charge against him.

According to Anwar, the judge accepted the prosecution’s arguments wholesale, despite the defence’s objection against complainant Saiful’s credibility as the star witness.

“We will be filing for a motion tomorrow morning to recuse Mohd Zabidin as trial judge for prejudging the case at the prosecution stage.

“I received instructions from my client to do so on May 18,” Anwar’s counsel Sankara Nair told The Malaysian Insider today.

The lawyer explained that the reason why there was a delay in filing the motion was because the defence team had only received the certified true copy (CTC) of the judge’s decision on May 31, which was yesterday.

“We only received the CTC or the written copy of the judge’s decision yesterday, that was why we had to wait until now to file for the motion, application... We can only proceed after getting the judge’s written judgement, and this was not supplied to any side when the decision was read on May 16,” Sankara said.

Anwar maintained his innocence and argued that the case had not taken into consideration the testimonies of several important witnesses — Pusrawi Hospital’s Dr Osman Hamid and the owner of the Desa Damansara condominium unit where the alleged sodomy took place.

The trial is scheduled to resume on June 6 where the defence will be calling witnesses to support their case.

It is understood that the defence team will interview 30 witnesses before the trial starts on June 6, and among those who will be interviewed are Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan and Datuk Mumtaz Jaafar.

The lawyer confirmed that Anwar will be the first defence witness to testify.

He has denied the sodomy charge, describing it as “evil, frivolous lies by those in power” when the charge was read out to him. He is charged under section 377B of the Penal Code and can be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years’ jail and whipping upon conviction.

The trial began 18 months after Anwar was charged in court in August 2008.

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