Kuala Lumpur 8/2/2010 – A Lot of us who was around when Anwar was first charged for sodomy in 1998 still remember the draconian judge, Augustine Paul. Today, Karpal Singh was instructed by Anwar to move proceedings to disqualify the presiding judge, Mohd Zabidin Mohd Diah.
Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim applied to recuse the judge in his sodomy trial on the grounds that his two rulings in relation to media coverage of the trial brought “to surface an element of a real danger of bias.”
Karpal said Anwar wants to disqualify the trial judge and that the sodomy trial should not proceed until the disposal of the PKR adviser’s application for recusal. “This is a serious matter. We will be here tommorrow (Tuesday) for the hearing of the application for the judge to recuse himself,” he said.
However, lead prosecutor Solicitor-General II Datuk Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden urged the court to proceed with the sodomy trial, saying that he needed to file an affidavit-in-reply to the disqualification application.
Upon hearing the submissions by both parties, Justice Mohamad Zabidin set 9.30am Tuesday to hear the application that he ought to recuse himself from further hearing the sodomy trial.
Justice Mohamad Zabidin said he would allow for some time in order for DPP Mohd Yusof to file an affidavit-in-reply to the disqualification application.
Anwar’s lawyer Sankara Nair said he had filed the application at the High Court criminal court registry at 9am on Monday.
Speaking to reporters later, Karpal said Anwar was worried that he would not get a fair trial due to previous rulings of the trial judge.
“If the trial judge has cautioned the newspaper, at least it will different. He should have sent a signal that he will not tolerate any interference by the media. His decisions cannot be supported,” he said.
Karpal said the defence team was not running away from the sodomy trial.
“It is not a delaying tactic. We want to proceed with the sodomy trial. We (just) want this (matter) to be clear,” he said.
In elaborating, Karpal said the trial judge’s ruling over the disqualification application would not be appealable as it were made in the course of the trial.
“It is not a final order as it does not finally dispose the rights of the (concerned) party (Anwar). It is not a conviction or an acquittal order (meted out by the High Court),” he said.
In an affidavit filed to support his application Monday, Anwar said Karpal had applied to court on Feb 4 to cite Utusan Malaysia for contempt of court over two articles published by the newspaper over Feb 3’s open court proceedings with allegedly misleading headlines.
Anwar claimed that the two headlines were “TAK RELA DILIWAT LAGI” (Not willing to be sodomised again) appeared on the front page of the Feb 4 Utusan report while “BERHENTI KERANA TIDAK MAHU DILIWAT LAGI” (Resigned because did not want to be sodomised again) was published on the third page of the newspaper.
Anwar claimed that the trial judge had dismissed his counsel’s application summarily on the ground that the said reports were not carried with the intention of being mischievous and to disrupt the trial proceedings.
In his papers, Anwar said the Malay daily had once again on Feb 5 carried on its front page a photograph with a caption saying that complainant Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan showing a bed to the trial judge where he was allegedly sodomised by him at the master bedroom in a condominium unit during his (judge) visit at Desa Damansara Condominium in Bukit Damansara.
Anwar claimed that his counsel had urged the trial judge to caution Utusan for having carried the photograph, saying that it was misleading and it was in relation to closed proceedings.
Anwar said the trial judge had declined to caution Utusan and that to his disbelief had ruled that the publication of the picture as evidence regarding the bed had been given in open court the previous day.
“This pronouncement by the learned judge is not borne out by what actually transpired in open court, not in the notes of proceedings, both written and audio,” he said.
In his affidavit, Anwar also said the rulings by the trial judge brought to surface an element of real danger of bias.
“I respectfully state as a result of the rulings made by the trial judge, there has been a departure from the standard of even-handed justice which the law requires.
“With respect, the learned trial judge has not adjudicated upon the applications made by my counsel with an independent mind,” he said.
He said he was entitled for a fair trial pursuant to provisions of Article 5(1) of the Federal Constitution.
Monday’s proceedings were expected to kick off with the much awaited cross-examination of Mohd Saiful, Anwar’s accuser and the only witness to have taken the stand so far.
But, will the court proceedings again move like the same old way? Will we see another typical Augustine Paul like proceedings ahead of us?