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1-24 July set for Anwar’s sodomy trial

KUALA LUMPUR, 10 March 2009: The High Court here today fixed 1-24 July for the sodomy trial of Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The hearing will be heard before Justice Datuk Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah, who fixed the date after the case was officially transferred from the Sessions Court today despite objections from Anwar’s lead counsel, Sulaiman Abdullah.

Sulaiman argued that the certificate of transfer for the case should be produced before Sessions Court judge SM Komathy Suppia, who had initially heard the matter. Solicitor-General II Datuk Mohamed Yusof Zainal Abiden told the court that Komathy was on leave, and any lower court was empowered to hear the matter. Sessions Court judge Rozana Ali Yusoff agreed with Mohamed Yusof and transferred the case to the High Court.

At the High Court, the charge was read out and the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) advisor again claimed trial.

Anwar, 62, is charged with voluntarily committing carnal intercourse against the order of nature with a former aide, Mohamad Saiful Bukhari Azlan, 23, at Unit 11-5-1, Desa Damansara Condominium, Jal an Setiakasih, Bukit Damansara, between 3.01pm and 4.30pm on 26 June last year.

If convicted, he faces imprisonment of up to 20 years under Section 377B of the Penal Code.

Sulaiman applied to the court to direct the prosecution to supply all relevant documents to the defence, saying that it needed the DNA reports for expert opinion overseas.

Justice Zabidin reminded both sides that he was giving priority to this case. “I’m setting two months for both parties to prepare for the trial, and by that time the appeal would have been heard,” he said.

On 5 March, Justice Zabidin allowed an application by the prosecution to transfer the trial from the Sessions to the High Court.

In his ruling, he said Komathy had erred when she found the certificate of transfer signed by Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail to be invalid.

On 7 Nov last year, Komathy ruled that the case raised a unique situation where it was evident that any involvement by the A-G in this case would seriously undermine public confidence in the administration of criminal justice.

Last Friday, Anwar’s counsel filed an appeal at the High Court registry here against Zabidin’s decision.

Anwar later told reporters that he was hoping for a fair trial even though he was concerned with the independence of the judiciary.

He also said that since the case would be heard in July, he could focus on the three by-elections (Bukit Gantang, Bukit Selambau and Batang Ai) and other matters in the next two months.

Anwar was accompanied by his wife, Datin Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, and PKR information chief Tian Chua. — Bernama

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