Kuala Lumpur 16/07/2009: Malaysian Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim will know by 2.30pm on Thursday if his legal team can access key evidence needed to prepare his defence against sodomy charges that Prime Minister Najib Razak has been accused of fabricating against him. Judge Mohd Zabidin, who resumed the hearing this morning, adjourned the case after defence counsel Sivarasa Rasiah finalised his submissions. On Wednesday, the judge had refused to grant Anwar more time to find a new lead counsel after his long-time lawyer Sulaiman Abdullah discharged himself due to serious illness.
The reform icon, regarded by many Malaysians as a prime minister-in-waiting, has been accused of sodomising Saiful Bukhari Azlan, a former staff, in June 2008. He has pleaded not guilty and accused Najib of framing him. The charges came about as Anwar was preparing to mount his parliamentary comeback. Despite the ensuing scandal, the charismatic leader managed to win the Permatang Pauh by-election with a landslide majority.
The U.S. state department has also gone on record to say that it believes that the sodomy charges against Anwar – both in 1998 and now – were politically motivated to kill his career. If found guilty, the 61-year old Anwar can be jailed for up to 20 years.
Meanwhile, the court is also due to hear an application from Anwar to dismiss the entire prosecution team for bias because key figures involved in the current case, such as Attorney-General Gani Patail, have been named in other cases involving fabrication of evidence against him. There is also another application to strike out the entire sodomy charge as two hospital reports – including from the government-run Hospital Kuala Lumpur – showed no evidence that Saiful had been sodomised at all. If all his applications are dismissed, then his trial proper will begin. Suara Keadilan