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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sodomy II: Saiful, Farah may be called to the stand over affair


Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle

All eyes are on Monday's resumption of the Sodomy II trial, where defense lawyers acting for Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim are likely to ask the court to call on both DPP Farah Azlina Latif and complainant Saiful Bukhari Azlan to take to the stand over allegations they had an affair - which could jeopardize the fairness of the trial.

“I believe the defense team is still weighing the best way to move forward. But an application to probe the extent of Saiful’s relationship with the DPP may be the first step,” PKR vice president Sivarasa Rasiah told Malaysia Chronicle.

“The Attorney-General cannot expect us and the world at large to take his word as good that she had no access to the Investigation Papers or any information that could help Saiful.”

Case also hinges on Saiful's credibility

Apart from possible unfair advantage, the sex scandal also casts a question mark on Saiful’s credibility as a key witness. This is an important point because the government's case against Anwar hinges on Saiful's testimony.

If the allegations are true, then Saiful would have cheated on his fiancee. Experts said such unreliability of character not only adds to the doubt already surrounding his testimony, but should render it void in the interests of justice and fair play to the person he has accused - Anwar.

"Saiful is accusing Anwar of having sodomized him. No one saw them - we only have Saiful’s word for it. And despite his having taken an oath in the mosque, Saiful has been found lying before. It is not the first time,” Siva said.

“So the question of morality cannot be evaded. There are serious questions about his character and his credibility as a witness especially with this latest affair. Before that, he denied meeting Prime Minister Najib Razak prior to lodging the police report against Anwar. Najib also denied meeting him, but when photos started to appear, both he and Saiful admitted to meeting in Putrajaya.”

Did Saiful cheat on his fiancee?

Both Saiful and Farah were already engaged to be married to respective partners. News has emerged that Farah broke off her engagement and allegations are rife it was because of Saiful.

Nonetheless, despite the possibility of gross misconduct, Anwar’s defense team led by Sankara Nair can expect to face tough resistance from both the court and the Najib administration.

In fact, many prominent civil society leaders, including lawmakers from United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, have already labeled the case a sham trial.Their criticism splashed all over cyberspace and the international press has shamed the country.

“The Najib administration will surely fight Anwar all the way. It is clear they want Anwar to lose. They want to lock him up and throw away the key,” PKR strategic director Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.

“From day one, there was mala fide. They insisted on the trial even though there was no evidence of anal penetration, and till now, they are denying the defense access to key information in the case.”

Will there be justice for Anwar?

At a late press conference on Monday, AG Gani Patail had dropped Farah from the prosecution team but denied any conflict of interest.

“This can be very difficult for us, but any personal matter, if it can have any implication in whatever form on the department, will be handled very seriously," Gani said.

Nonetheless, his insistence that Farah was only tasked to take notes and did not have access to sensitive information has sparked concerns his chambers would try to cover up the matter and resist any calls for an inquiry.

Meanwhile, Bar Council president Ragunath Kesavan has also called for an investigation and disciplinary action against Farah if she did have an affair.

"It is definitely is an ethical matter, as prosecutions are done in the interest of justice.You are there to put your case before the court in the interest of justice. As there is no client here, there should be no relationship between prosecutor and complainant," the Sun reported Ragunath as saying.

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