KUALA LUMPUR, 24 Sept 2008: The Sessions Court was troubled that the certificate to transfer Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy case to the High Court was signed by Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail despite the Prime Minister’s statement assuring that the attorney-general would not be involved in the case.
Judge S M Komathy Suppiah expressed her concern today, saying that it would erode public confidence in the system of justice.
Abdul Gani is under investigation by the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) following a police report lodged against him by Anwar over allegations of fabrication of evidence in Anwar’s “black eye” incident in 1998.
Datuk Mohamed Yusof Zainal Abiden, head of the prosecution unit in the Attorney-General’s Chambers, explained that Abdul Gani was duty bound to sign the certificate as an administrative procedure in his capacity as the attorney-general.
Komathy: Why do you think Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) said that? [referring to the statement that Abdul Gani would not be involved in Anwar’s case]
Mohamed Yusof: To ensure that there was no bias to Anwar who lodged an ACA report against Abdul Gani.
Mohamed Yusof contended that the prime minister could say anything he wanted but at the end of the day, the court would have to decide in accordance with the law.
Komathy accepted Yusof’s explanation.
Anwar’s lead counsel, Sulaiman Abdullah, told the court that the public had been misled in that the prime minister’s statement had stated that Abdul Gani would not be involved in the case but yet the attorney-general had signed the transfer certificate.
“The prime minister shot off his mouth without consulting the attorney-general. Why mislead the public if the attorney-general is not involved.
“Our position is that Abdul Gani was to have absolutely no role in this case. He has no business to use or sign the certificate. This is the crux of our objection,” Sulaiman said.
He said that at this stage all that the defence was saying was that Abdul Gani could not sign the certificate, making it (the certificate) invalid.
Anwar, 61, is charged with voluntarily committing carnal intercourse against the order of nature with his former aide, Mohamad Saiful Bukhari Azlan, 23, at Unit 11-5-1, Desa Damansara Condominium, Jalan Setiakasih, Bukit Damansara between 3.01pm and 4.30pm on 26 June 2008.
The Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) advisor and newly-appointed Opposition leader in the Dewan Rakyat faces a maximum penalty 20 years under Section 377B of the Penal Code if convicted but will not face whipping as he is above 50.
Besides Sulaiman, Anwar was also represented by R Sivarasa, Sankara N Nair, Leela Jesuthasan, Edmund Bon, Saiful Idham Ramli, Amer Hamzah Arshad, Latheefa Koya and Mohd Radzlan Jalaludin.
The prosecution team comprises Mohamed Yusof, Datuk Nordin Hassan, Mohamad Hanafiah Zakaria, Wong Chiang Kiat, Farhan Read and Shamsul Sulaiman.
Meanwhile, Mohamed Yusof raised a preliminary objection, saying that the Sessions Court had the mandate to transfer Anwar’s case to the High Court once the transfer certificate had been issued by the prosecution.
He said that under Section 418A (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code, the Sessions Court had no other option but to effect the transfer upon the tendering of the certificate.
Mohamed Yusof said the Sessions Court, being a subordinate court, did not have any discretion to deny the transfer.
“In objecting to the certificate issued by the public prosecutor, the learned counsel for Anwar is either seeking a declaration that the certificate is invalid or to quash the decision of the prosecution to transfer the case to the high court,” he said, adding that those remedies were under the jurisdiction of the High Court to hear and adjudicate.
Sulaiman submitted that the prosecution had failed to provide any cogent reasons for the case to be transferred to the High Court.
He said that from the defence research, reported cases pertaining to sodomy offences in the country had been conducted in the Sessions Court.
After hearing submissions from both sides in open court, Komathy informed those present that she needed time to look into the submissions and authorities cited by both sides before making her decision.
She then fixed 7 Oct to deliver her verdict. — Bernama