Sodomy II: Anwar gets more time

(The Star) – The Federal Court has allowed an application by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for sufficient time to file a petition of appeal to compel the prosecution to supply documents and inspection of DNA samples which he claimed were crucial for preparation of his defence in his sodomy trial.

Chief Judge of Malaya Justice Arifin Zakaria, who sat together with Federal Court judges Justices Md Raus Sharif and Abdull Hamid Embong, granted an application by Anwar’s lawyer Karpal Singh to file the petition within 10 days as allowed by the law.

Earlier in the proceeding, Karpal told the court that they should be given sufficient time to prepare the appeal as they had only received the record of appeal from the Court of Appeal on Dec 30 last year.

“According to the rules, we have 10 days from the day we received the record of appeal, to file the petition of appeal. We will file the petition by Monday.

“We also received a notification from the court on Dec 29 last year informing us that this appeal was set for hearing today. It is unconstitutional that the hearing date was fixed even before the petition of appeal is filed,” he said.

Solicitor-General II Datuk Mohamed Yusof Zainal Abiden, however, asked the court to fix an early date for the appeal hearing as the case involved public interest and the sodomy trial in the High Court would commence on Jan 25.

Karpal said: “There is no need to hurry. This is an important appeal involving the interpretation of section 51A of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC). The decision of this court will bind and affect other courts.

“Just because the trial will go on Jan 25, (it) doesn’t mean that this appeal should be rushed. We should be given sufficient time, at least one month.”

Anwar, 62, is charged with sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, 24, at a condominium in Bukit Damansara, Kuala Lumpur on June 26, 2008.

On July 16 last year, High Court judge Datuk Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah granted Anwar’s application to compel the prosecution to supply him with the documents under section 51A of the CPC to enable him to prepare his defence so that the prosecution process would be more open and fair.

On Nov 6 the Court of Appeal, in a unanimous decision, allowed the prosecution’s appeal against the High Court ruling and dismissed Anwar’s cross-appeal for DNA samples. The Bench ruled that “in a criminal proceeding, the law does not allow a fishing inquiry.”

Anwar also has an appeal pending at the Federal Court against the Court of Appeal ruling, over his preliminary objection that this matter from the High Court was not appealable on grounds that it is not a final order. The Court of Appeal had held that it was a final order.

Justice Arifin adjourned the matter to be heard to a date to be fixed later.