Sunday, June 17, 2018

Anwar Ibrahim Still Wants to Clear His Name

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Sarawak Report highlighted Anwar Ibrahim’s wish to have his name cleared through the courts – even though he had expressed gratitude for the royal pardon he received last month which allowed him to be unconditionally released from prison. 

It seems that the de facto PKR leader had instructed his UK-based lawyers to continue to seek a re-test on the DNA samples taken from him during the proceedings in his second sodomy trial in 2014. 

Anwar said his decision not to drop the proceedings in his case would put Malaysia's legal system and the PH government's commitment to the rule of law to the test. 

“I want to have (my case) set out and reviewed in court and to have it judged purely on the principles of law – this would show the beginning of the rule of justice in Malaysia”, Anwar was quoted as saying on Wednesday in London. 

He said that many others had suffered under archaic legal processes in Malaysia, which he as a politician had a unique advantage of viewing first-hand by virtue of joining them in prison. 

Anwar said his experience has made him a passionate advocate for prison and penal reform as a result. 

Queen’s counsel David Bentley, who is representing Anwar, had admitted to Anwar's request as being a Herculean task to have the case reopened. 

He explained that this was because Malaysia does not have provisions for oversight review by the Federal/supreme courts to ensure that justice has been served.  

Bentley said that he had also been troubled by the fact that, unlike for example in the UK, an acquittal in a criminal case could be challenged by the prosecution, as had taken place in Anwar’s situation. 

The latter had been found not guilty by a High Court judge, Bentley pointed out, on the grounds that the crucial DNA evidence used against him had been shown to be suspect and inadequate by two eminent Australian scientific experts. 

In normal circumstances this ought to have been the end of any criminal prosecution and indeed the Malaysian High Court judge had deemed it so. 

However, the case proceeded upwards for reasons nobody really understood – first to the Appeal Court and then to the Federal Court. And they were perplexed to know that the evidence of the respected scientists had been mocked and then dismissed by the higher court judges. 

In one ruling the DNA experts were described as “armchair observers”, said Bentley, again for reasons that were not clarified. 

Even so, Anwar's legal team acknowledged that to obtain an order to re-open and re-examine the issue as described above would represent a breakthrough in terms of Malaysian law. And I suppose, this is a last-ditch challenge for Anwar to clear his name. 

We know Anwar Ibrahim is innocent – but the need to prove there was a miscarriage of justice is important for his peace of mind. As well as to put to rest, any doubt anybody may have towards Anwar. 

If he is going to be the next Prime Minister, I reckon he needs a clear acquittal in a court of law.

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