Court of Appeal rejects Anwar’s suit against Malaysian govt on 2015 sodomy conviction

(The Edge) – The Court of Appeal on Wednesday (Feb 23) dismissed opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s lawsuit against the Malaysian government in a legal action where Anwar is seeking a declaration that his 2015 sodomy conviction involving his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan is null based on Anwar’s claim that the government had acted beyond the scope of the Federal Constitution in pursuing his conviction.

Anwar had also sought a Court of Appeal order that the 2015 decision by the Federal Court in upholding an earlier Court of Appeal ruling that invalidated his acquittal of sodomising Mohd Saiful is null because the Federal Court had acted beyond its authority in arriving at its decision.

In the hearing on Wednesday, Court of Appeal Judge Datuk Abu Bakar Jais said the court had in a unanimous decision rejected Anwar’s appeal as it is “undeniable in the criminal prosecution against Anwar, he had his right of hearing from the High Court to the Federal Court”.

“The case had concluded in the apex court (the Federal Court), the appellant (Anwar) therefore was not denied the opportunity to defend himself in the apex court,” Justice Abu Bakar said.

Justice Abu Bakar was one of the judges on the three-member bench, which included Justices Datuk Lee Swee Seng and Datuk Supang Lian.

Anwar was represented by lawyer Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram.

Speaking on the government’s behalf was senior federal counsel Suzana Atan, while Harvinderjit Singh represented lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, an intervenor in the sodomy case.

Sri Ram and Harvinderjit were, however, absent from the Court of Appeal’s proceedings on Wednesday.

Replacing Sri Ram was Leela Jesuthasan, while Sarah Abishegam replaced Harvinderjit.

Anwar’s sodomy case dates back to 2008.

On June 28, 2008, it was reported that Mohd Saiful made a police report alleging that Anwar had sodomised him at a condominium in Damansara.

Anwar subsequently on June 30, 2008 filed a defamation lawsuit against Mohd Saiful for lodging the police report, claiming that it was false and malicious.

The High Court in 2012 acquitted Anwar of the 2008 sodomy charge but the Court of Appeal on March 7, 2014 invalidated the High Court’s decision.

On Feb 10, 2015, the Federal Court upheld the Court of Appeal’s decision and gave Anwar a five-year jail sentence.

On May 16, 2018, the then Yang di-Pertuan Agong granted Anwar a pardon for his sodomy conviction after Pakatan Harapan won the general election that year.

In the Court of Appeal on Wednesday, Justice Abu Bakar said Anwar’s claim that lawyer Shafee had received RM9.5 million from former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to take on the sodomy case is a “mere assertion” unsupported by evidence.

According to the judge, even if it is proven that Shafee had been paid the money, it would not have affected the previous Court of Appeal and Federal Court decisions on the sodomy case.

“The decisions in both of these courts were given by judges of these courts independently and without influence and [also] without knowledge of any payment between the two individuals (Shafee and Najib),” Justice Abu Bakar explained.

“Therefore, it does not matter if there was such payment made by Najib to Shafee. It is a matter for the MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission) to investigate and the Attorney General to prosecute if there is corrupt payment and receipt of the said sum,” the judge said.

Before Anwar’s appeal was heard in the Court of Appeal in mid-2018, an officer of the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) affirmed in an affidavit that the AGC’s probe found that Shafee had accepted the RM9.5 million from Najib.

Shafee subsequently applied to intervene in Anwar’s sodomy case and strike out the affidavit filed by the AGC officer.

Subsequently, Shafee was charged with two money laundering charges involving the RM9.5 million.

The lawyer is also facing two charges of making false statements to the Inland Revenue Board.

The trial involving these charges is ongoing.