THE Malaysian Bar welcomes the judgment of Yang Arif Datuk Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah that was handed down in the case of Prosecutor v Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, wherein Yang Arif ordered the prosecution to furnish the defence team, prior to the commencement of a trial, with all documents that are relevant and necessary for the team to prepare its defence.
These documents include chemist and medical case notes, a list of the prosecution’s witnesses, a statement of favourable facts to the defence, and the witness statements that have been recorded by the police.
We believe that this High Court decision is consistent with the government’s policy in enacting section 51A of the Criminal Procedure Code (which came into force in 2007), namely to level the playing field between the prosecution and the defence and to increase transparency and fairness in the country’s criminal justice system.
The provision of documents prior to the commencement of a trial will also assist the defence in preparing its case more effectively. This will in turn increase the level of efficiency of a trial, and reduce the incidence of adjournments that are required in order for the defence to review newly submitted documents.
The Malaysian Bar believes that this judgment marks a new chapter in our criminal justice system and brings us on par with international principles.
28 July 2009