KUALA LUMPUR: The long-awaited sodomy trial of Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will finally begin in proper at 2.30pm Wednesday after High Court judge Justice Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah quashed a stay application by the defence team on Tuesday.
There was no special circumstances to warrant a stay, the judge ruled.
Earlier Tuesday, Justice Mohamad Zabidin had allowed a request by Anwar’s lead counsel Karpal Singh to adjourn the proceeding until until 2.30pm to get an early date for the hearing of a review application.
However, Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi was not in his office Putrajaya to hear the review application, and instead asked Court of Appeal president Justice Alauddin Mohd Sheriff to meet both parties also on Wednesday to set a date to hear Anwar’s review application against the Federal Court ruling last Friday which denied him access to key documents he sought to prepare his defence.
At the start of the court proceeding at 9.36am, Karpal said the defence team and Solicitor-General II Datuk Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden would be meeting the Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi in Putrajaya for the purpose.
“It is very important that the documents are supplied to us.
“We want to exhaust our final avenue to get the documents. Give us the opportunity to see the Chief Justice, we will come back at 2.30pm, where Your Lordship will be bound by his order,” he told the court.
Karpal, however, said he would proceed with the stay application to adjourn the trial proper in the High Court should the Chief Justice reject their request.
Last Friday, the Federal Court unanimously upheld the Court of Appeal’s ruling and denied Anwar access to the key documents he sought.
The three-man Bench of the apex court — Chief Judge of Malaya Justice Arifin Zakaria and Justices Md Raus Sharif and Abdull Hamid Embong — ruled that prior to the start of the trial, Anwar was only entitled to documents and materials pertaining to the charge, which had already been provided to him.
The Bench ruled that at this pre-trial stage, a roving fishing enquiry for evidence was not permissible.
Lead prosecutor DPP Mohd Yusof said he had no objections for the brief adjournment based on the defence’s assurance to proceed with the stay application at 2.30pm.
Justice Mohamad Zabidin then granted the adjournment for the stay application and the trial proper.
Speaking to reporters later, Anwar’s lawyer Sankara Nair said he had filed the review application at the Federal Court registry at 8.30am Tuesday.
“We will be meeting the Chief Justice to get an early date for the review application, and to get an order for the stay of proceedings,” he said.
In the review application filed Tuesday, Anwar claims that the Federal Court had erred in law in holding that the ruling of the High Court in granting him access to documents and materials was a final order.
“The Federal Court in review must put right what is obviously wrong, to ensure a fair trial,” Anwar said in his affidavit to support his application.
He added that injustice had been done to him, and that he would be “severely prejudiced” should he be denied the material and documents he claims are vital for the preparation of his defence.
“I respectfully state that I have made out an exceptional case for the court to act as the decision of the Federal Court has occasioned an injustice which needs to be rectified and prevented,” he said.
Anwar arrived at the courtroom at 8.59am accompanied by his wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and his three daughters — Nurul Izzah, Nurul Iman and Nurul Hana.
The PKR adviser shook hands with Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang, Bar Council president Ragunath Kesavan, and Kelantan Mentri Besar and PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat.
The Opposition leader also joked with foreign representatives: “After 11 years (since his first sodomy trial in 1998), I don’t know how to get inside the dock.”
He also teased a court police officer, asking him why he looked “so tense.”
Over 30 local and foreign reporters were screened using metal detectors at 8.28am while six bomb squad officers checked the courtroom earlier before allowing the people into the public gallery.
Also present were Saiful’s father Azlan Mohd Lazim and former Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng. Lawyer Zamri Idrus is holding a watching brief for Saiful.
An unidentified elderly man created a stir when he started shouting profanities in the courthouse lobby.
He was taken aside by a security guard after five minutes of screaming and then fainted.
A group of PKR supporters were seen attending to him and he was subsequently taken for medical treatment.
Anwar is being charged under section 377B of the Penal Code which carries a maximum 20 years’ jail and whipping, if convicted.
The sodomy trial was originally set for Jan 25 but was postponed to today pending its decision whether to allow Anwar access to documents from the prosecution to prepare his defence.
In addressing the crowd, Anwar questioned the lack of evidence in the case adding that he was prepared for the trial to begin on Tuesday but with the documents that he had applied for his defence.
Meanwhile, PKR strategic adviser Tian Chua, in hinting that the party might hold demonstrations, said it wanted to show the country that the “rakyat (people) are with Anwar in the spirit of solidarity.” – thestar