Malaysia’s Federal Court on Monday (Oct 28, 2014) began hearing opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s final appeal against his sodomy conviction and five-year jail sentence.
It is the second sodomy trial for the 67-year-old politician and it could spell the end of his career if the country’s highest court upholds the guilty verdict.
Here’s a look at the two sodomy cases and the likely outcome:
Case 1: Azizan Abu Bakar
On Sept 2, 1998, Anwar was sacked as deputy prime minister amid investigation for alleged corruption and sodomy of Azizan Abu Bakar between January and March 1993 in Tivoli Villa, Bangsar. Azizan was at the time the driver for Anwar’s wife, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. Anwar’s adopted brother, Sukma Dermawan, was a co-defendant.
On Sept 29, 1998, Anwar – bruised with a black eye – appeared in court and pleaded innocent to charges of sodomy and corruption. The national police chief Tan Sri Rahim Noor later admitted to beating Anwar and was jailed and fined for the offence.
During the sodomy trial, Azizan told the court that he was sodomised up to 15 times by Anwar in luxury hotels and a condominiums. A mattress was presented to court, supposedly stained with Anwar’s semen, but he denied having anything to do with the mattress.
Anwar was found guilty on Aug 8, 2000 and was sentenced to nine years in prison for sodomy, to be served consecutively with an earlier six-year term for corruption. Sukma was sentenced to six years in jail.
On Sept 5, 2004, Anwar won his final appeal against the sodomy conviction in a majority 2-1 ruling and was freed. The judge said the essential part of the offence had not been proven by the prosecution as Azizan, being the only source for the date of the offence, showed inconsistency and contradiction when giving evidence and was therefore not a reliable source. The court also overturned the conviction of Sukma.
Case 2: Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan
On Jun 29, 2008, Anwar’s political aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan lodged a police report claiming that he had been sodomised by Anwar at a condominium in Bukit Damansara on Jun 26, 2008.
Anwar applied to the High Court to strike out his sodomy charge on grounds that the entire charge was “a travesty, a complete farce and has absolutely no basis.” But the High Court ruled that it could not strike out the sodomy charge based solely on medical reports that there was no penetration.
The trial opened on Feb 3, 2010. In his testimony, Mohd Saiful revealed that Anwar had invited him to engage in carnal intercourse. During the trial, Anwar claimed that the integrity and impartiality of the entire prosecution team had been compromised because of an alleged affair between Mohd Saiful and a member of the prosecution team.
On Jan 9, 2012, the High Court acquitted and discharged Anwar of sodomising Mohd Saiful. Justice Mohamad Zabidin said there was penile penetration but it was uncorroborated by other evidence. He said the court could not be 100 per cent certain on the integrity of samples taken for DNA testing from Mohd Saiful as the samples could have been compromised before they reached the chemistry department for analysis.
The prosecution filed its petition of appeal in July 2012 over the acquittal and Anwar tried but failed in his attempt to disqualify senior lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah from appearing as public prosecutor on the basis that he was a material witness in the sodomy trial.
On Mar 7, 2014, Anwar was sentenced to five years’ jail by the Court of Appeal after the court found him guilty of sodomy.
The five-man bench could decide to send Anwar to prison, or to uphold the guilty verdict but defer sentencing to a later date.
There is also a possibility that the Federal Court may order a retrial as Anwar’s defence seems to raise questions about the veracity of the prosecution’s evidence without so far providing a solid alibi.
Source: Malay Mail, New Straits Times, The Guardian, BBC