Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Anwar in the Dock

The court hearing for Anwar Ibrahim continues. It is a trial that has been condemned internationally by legal scholars and human rights activists as designed to take Anwar out of Malaysia’s political equation.

Anwar’s lawyers accused Najib Razak of being responsible for the current sodomy charge against the PKR leader, claiming that the prime minister’s “fingerprints” were “all over” the case. Anwar, himself, had repeatedly accused Najib of being involved in the Sodomy II trial.

The defense had raised these pertinent points:

That the complainant Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan had sought to get doctors to certify that he was sodomized. Saiful first went to a private hospital, where a doctor found no evidence of penetration and told him to go to a government hospital. At the first government hospital, doctors also told him they had found no evidence of tearing or scarring that would have indicated his anus had been penetrated. He was forced to go to a third government hospital where he finally found a physician willing to say the act had taken place.

That Saiful had admitted to meeting Najib on June 24, 2008, when the latter was still deputy prime minister, days before the alleged sodomy act took place.

That Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor had applied to set aside a subpoena to appear in court as defense witnesses, saying that they should not have done that if there was “nothing to hide.”

“If the premier and Rosmah had no relevance to this case, why then did investigating officer DSP Jude Pereira record their statements? This is not just our conclusion. It is also the conclusion of the public and at large,” said Sankara Nair, Anwar’s lead counsel.

That Najib gave “contradictory” answers to the media when asked about the matter, first stating that Saiful had come to see him about obtaining a scholarship and, later, changing it to a public statement that Saiful went to see him to complain about “alleged misdeeds” by Anwar.

“Why did Najib not come clean the first time he was asked about this? What was there to hide? Why did he have to resort to lies?” asked Sankara.

Adding to the suspicions of a conspiracy, said Sankara, were SAC Rodhwan Ismail’s and former Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan’s “involvement” in the case. The lawyer questioned the reason behind Rodhwan meeting Saiful just before he lodged a police report against Anwar, as the former was not the investigating officer at the time.

Rodhwan became famous, or infamous, in Anwar’s 1998 Sodomy I trial when he illegally removed Anwar’s DNA samples from forensic custody and planted them on a mattress allegedly used by Anwar for a homosexual dalliance. To protect the integrity of the prosecution’s case, the presiding judge, Augustine Paul, expunged the entire DNA evidence at the time.

That police officials have testified that Saiful didn’t offer to be tested for DNA samples until 56 hours after the alleged incident, and he said he hadn’t defecated during those two days, which could have corrupted the sample.

That samples taken from Saiful were kept unguarded in a police office for 43 hours without refrigeration before they were turned over to the laboratory for analysis.

That chemists testified that as many as 10 different DNA samples had been found in Saiful’s rear, making the whole analysis process suspect.

That there was no evidence to confirm that the DNA from Male Y found on rectal swabs taken from Anwar came from sperm cells. Sankara said the DNA could have been easily obtained from the mineral bottle, toothbrush and “Good Morning”-brand towel retrieved from Anwar when he was detained overnight on July 16, 2008 at the Kuala Lumpur police headquarters.

That the manner in which DNA samples could be taken from Anwar is questionable. Under Malaysian law at the time, suspects could refuse to give DNA samples. However, the Malaysian parliament passed a law repealing the consent requirement after Anwar’s arrest. In most courts, law cannot be applied retroactively.

That there was entrapment. Saiful had testified that on the day in question he had taken lubricant with him to Anwar’s condominium – hardly the act of an innocent aide who had no idea that the then 63-year-old Anwar was about to jump him for unnatural sex.

That a possibility exists that Saiful intended to try to lure Anwar into a compromising position. It would be questionable whether he tried to do that on his own, and it would dovetail rather smoothly with his meetings with Najib, Rosmah, and the law enforcement officials who put Anwar in jail in 1999.

Surely, from all of the above, it is clear that there is more than “reasonable doubt” on the sodomy charge. Why persist with this charade if not to destroy Anwar’s political career?

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