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Judge cancels gag order on media

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 9 (Bernama) – Sessions Court Judge SM Komathy today reversed her earlier decision to prohibit the media from reporting the contents of three exhibits produced in preliminary proceedings of the Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim sodomy trial.

She issued the gag order yesterday following the application by Senior Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Mohamed Yusof Zainal Abiden who argued that the publication of the exhibits would further damage the reputation of Attorney General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail.

The exhibits in question comprised two statements of claim filed by Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan and the then investigation officer in the 1998 Anwar case Datuk Mat Zain Ibrahim and newspaper reports on the “black-eye” incident.

At the start of today’s proceedings, Anwar’s lead counsel Sulaiman Abdullah said the media should not be gagged because the contents of the documents which were contained in Anwar’s affidavit were read out in open court, thus rendering them a public document.

He also said: “The two statements of claim were filed in the Kuala Lumpur High Court and they became public documents and they could be published. The public has the right to know what had happened in court,” he said.

Anwar suffered a black eye in 1998 after he was assaulted by the then Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Rahim Noor in the Bukit Aman lock-up.

At 60, he is now opposition leader and on trial for voluntarily committing carnal intercourse against the order of nature with a former aide, 23-year-old Mohamad Saiful Bukhari Azlan, at Unit 11-5-1, Desa Damansara Condominium, Jalan Setiakasih, Bukit Damansara between 3.01pm and 4.30pm on 26 June.

If convicted, he will face imprisonment of up to 20 years under Section 377B of the Penal Code. Presently, he is on bail on a personal bond of RM20,000.

Anwar filed the affidavit to support his application opposing the prosecution’s bid to transfer the case to the High Court by questioning the validity of the transfer certificate signed by Gani who was under probe by the Anti-Corruption Agency following a police report lodged against him by Anwar over fabrication of evidence in the investigation of the black-eye incident.

Sulaiman said the prosecution did not state any cogent reasons as to why the three exhibits had to be barred from publishing since they could not be separated from the body of the affidavit.

“When the exhibit was read in court, it could not be barred from being published. The gag order has deprived the public on what is going on in court,” he said.

Sulaiman said that 10 years ago, the prosecution had objected to Anwar’s gag order on the publication of certain exhibits involving Musa and now the prosecution itself sought a gag order when it involved Gani.

“The prosecution should not make the application on behalf of a third party. Gani should have made the application himself to expunge Anwar’s affidavit,” he said.

In discharging the gag order, Komathy relied on a case law which was decided by the then Kota Kinabalu High Court Judge Datuk Sulong Matjeraie on the corruption case of former Sawit Kinabalu Group managing director Datuk Wasli Mohamad Said.          

In that case, it was held that Order 41 Rules 5(2) of the Rules of the High Court 1980 provides that an affidavit sworn for the purpose of being used in interlocutory proceedings may contain statements of information or belief with the sources and grounds thereof.

Komathy ruled that the contents in the exhibits in Anwar’s affidavit were admissible.

The hearing will continue on 31 Oct on the validity of the transfer certificate. The judge fixed the date after Sulaiman told the court that Parliament would begin its session from 13 Oct until 11 Dec and Anwar, being Member of Parliament for Permatang Pauh, had to attend the sitting.

Sulaiman also said Parliament was scheduled every Monday till Thursday and Anwar was only available on Friday. — Bernama



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