Saiful’s alleged affair: Possibility of Sodomy II mistrial

Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle

As public misgivings grow, there are calls for the sodomy trial against Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim to be suspended until a probe has been completed on allegations that Saiful Bukhari Azlan’s neutrality as the key witness has been compromised because of a sexual affair with a member of the prosecuting team.

“We are looking at a possible mistrial if the allegations are true. I think everyone was shocked when the news came out, but let’s get it right. From the beginning, by the fact of their status in the case, this was never a personal affair between two people,” Anwar’s lawyer Sivarasa Rasiah told Malaysia Chronicle.

“If true, there is a fundamental and serious conflict of interest. And this is why it is important that the court orders a probe as soon as possible.”

Investigation papers

He was not sure if the defense would make an application to the court or wait until August 2, when the trial, popularly known as Sodomy II, is due to resume. According to Siva, his team would discuss the matter and try to gather as much information as possible.

Anwar, the 62-year-old PKR adviser, was accused of sodomizing Saiful at Unit 11-5-1 of the Desa Damansara Condominium in Jalan Setiakasih, Bukit Damansara, Kuala Lumpur, between 3.01pm and 4.30pm on June 26, 2008.

He has denied the charges and accused Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor of collaborating with Saiful to frame him and derail his political comeback.

“Details like when did Saiful start his relationship with the lady prosecutor are important as they indicate how much access he had to the prosecution’s Investigation Papers. Remember, he is the complainant against Anwar and his reason for the trial is to punish Anwar,” Siva said.

“So, if he has privy to the information in the Investigation Papers because of this relationship, then he would have unfair knowledge of what is likely to be asked in court and how to plan his answers accordingly. So if true, the trial which is already questionable and should never have begun in the first place would be even more of a mistrial.”

Gag order

Indeed, the Najib administration has been sharply rebuked for pushing through the case against Anwar although two government hospital reports have stated there was no evidence of penetration in Saiful’s anus. The prosecution has also refused to allow the defense to access key information including chemists’ reports, sparking speculation that Najib might use DNA samples obtained from Anwar in 1998.

Then, Anwar – the deputy prime minister – had been similarly incarcerated by former premier Mahathir Mohamad. It was only after Mahathir resigned that Anwar was acquitted in 2004 after spending 6 years in jail on what he has always maintained were trumped-up charges. Hence, the tag Sodomy II for the current trial.

Apart from Siva, there are other leaders who have urged for a thorough investigation, including by the Islamic religious authorities. as both Saiful and the lady are Muslims.

“Out of fairness, the court should immediately suspend the case and do a thorough probe. The religious authorities should also investigate whether Saiful and his friend have breached boundaries acceptable in Islam,” PAS vice president told Malaysia Chronicle.