Convicting Anwar quickly was done in public interest, says Court of Appeal


V. Anbalagan, The Malaysian Insider

In convicting Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for sodomy last month, the Court of Appeal said it was in the public interest that criminal appeals be dealt with by as swiftly as possible.

In the joint judgment by a three-man bench led by Datuk Balia Yusof Wahi, it said delays brought the administration of justice into disrepute.

“As is often pointed out, delay is a known defence tactic. It is not proper for a counsel to routinely fail to expedite hearing an appeal solely for the convenience of his client.

“Nor will a failure to expedite be reasonable if it is done for the purpose of frustrating an opposing party to obtain rightful redress,” the 85-page judgment added.

The judgment said counsel should not intentionally use procedural devices to delay proceedings without any legal basis.

The judgment said it would be stretching it too far to say that this appeal has been disposed of in haste.

“It should be noted that most of the applications to adjourn were at the instance of the respondent (Anwar), who had filed one application after another,” it said.

Anwar had filed three applications to disqualify Umno lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah who was appointed ad hoc deputy public prosecutor to lead Putrajaya to overturn the sodomy acquittal.

The opposition leader also filed another application to obtain leave to adduce further evidence by attempting to recall investigating officer Jude Blacious Pereira who has since retired.

The judgment said it could be seen that the first hearing of the appeal was fixed on July 22 last year by which time both parties (appellant and respondent) ought to have filed their written submissions.

However, only the appellant (Putrajaya) filed its submissions dated July 19, 2013 together with the bundle of authorities.

The court received the respondent’s first submissions only on February 12 this year and other submissions on March 6, the first day of hearing.

On the other hand, Anwar’s legal team led by the late Karpal Singh and the Malaysian Bar had also raised questions about the manner in which the appeal was handled and fuelled the perception that the opposition leader was persecuted and not prosecuted.