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TheAge: Anwar judge protected conspiracy, says lawyer
By Mark Baker

27/3/2002 12:58 am Wed

Anwar judge protected conspiracy, says lawyer

By Mark Baker - Asia Editor Kuala Lumpur March 27 2002

A judge who sentenced former Malaysian deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim to 15 years' jail refused to admit witnesses whose evidence could have proved that Mr Anwar was the victim of a political conspiracy, the country's highest court was told yesterday.

The Federal Court was also told that Justice Augustine Paul had abused his position by threatening the defence team, amending charges and expunging vital evidence from the court record during the 1998 trial that followed Mr Anwar's sacking by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad over discredited allegations of sexual misconduct.

"Anwar was subjected to the most unfair trial imaginable. No parallel can be found in Malaysian legal history," defence lawyer Christopher Fernando told the appeal hearing. "We had compelling direct evidence of an attempt to fabricate evidence against Anwar but all this evidence was ruled inadmissable . . . it was a gross miscarriage of justice."

The appeal before a three-man bench headed by Chief Justice Dzaiddin Abdullah is being watched by Western embassies, international human rights groups and opposition parties as a crucial test for the future of the Mahathir Government - and for the Malaysian legal system.

A decision to acquit Mr Anwar would be political dynamite for Dr Mahathir, who suffered a backlash from Malay voters over the dismissal of his once anointed successor before rebuilding his political fortunes since the events of September 11.

The case is also seen as a vital test for the independence of the Malaysian judiciary, with speculation that the reformist Chief Justice Dzaiddin is preparing to take a stand against political interference with the courts before he retires later this year.

The defence team yesterday detailed what they described as a systematic effort by Justice Paul to exclude all evidence during the trial of a conspiracy to frame Mr Anwar - who was accused of sodomising his driver, having an affair with the wife of his private secretary and attempting to block police investigations.

Mr Fernando said the judge refused to hear the evidence of several vital defence witnesses, including a lawyer approached by government officials to help fabricate evidence and the owner of a Washington car hire company offered money by a Malaysian diplomat to concoct allegations of sexual misconduct.

Lawyer Manjeet Singh had signed an affidavit alleging that chief prosecutor Abdul Gani Patail - now Malaysia's Attorney-General - had approached him and offered a deal to amend serious charges against a client who was a friend of Mr Anwar's if the man agreed to make false reports against the former deputy prime minister.

When the allegations were raised during the trial, Justice Paul refused to allow Manjeet Sinh to be called as a witness and sentenced one of the defence lawyers to three months' jail for contempt of court - a sentenced overturned on appeal.

Mr Fernando said Justice Paul had repeatedly threatened to charge other defence lawyers with contempt, had amended charges and expunged evidence to stop the conspiracy against Mr Anwar being revealed.

The hearings are scheduled to continue into next week.


Anwar appeal targets Malaysian trial judge

26 Mar 2002 11:01

By Barani Krishnan

KUALA LUMPUR, March 26 (Reuters) - Malaysia's jailed former deputy prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, resumed an appeal on Tuesday fighting his six year sentence on corruption charges claiming he received an unfair trial.

Anwar, who is also serving nine years for sodomy, says the charges against him were trumped up by cronies of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, sat in a wheelchair for the Federal Court hearing because he is suffering from a slipped disc.

"The appellant has been subjected to the most unfair trial imaginable," Anwar's lawyer Christopher Fernando told the court. "No parallel can be found in Malaysian legal history."

Mahathir has maintained Anwar received fair trials.

Anwar, whom Washington calls a political prisoner, was sentenced in April 1999 on four counts of corruption, or abuse of power.

Once seen as Mahathir's likely successor, Anwar arrived at the Federal Court in a police van and waved to around 30 supporters as he emerged.

He was sacked in 1998 at the height of the Asian financial crisis, after challenging Mahathir's authority, Anwar's subsequent humiliation caused a split in the majority ethnic Malay vote, with many passing over to the opposition Muslim fundamentalist party.

Criticism of trial judge Augustine Paul's conduct during the 1998-99 trial is at theart of Anwar's defence.

Fernando said the judge blocked attempts to see if there was a conspiracy against the former deputy prime minister, and threatened the defence with contempt proceedings whenever it tried show the charges were fabricated.

The judge also barred key witnesses, including the testimony of a U.S.-based chauffeur who says he was offered a bribe to say Anwar had a homosexual relationship with him, Fernando said.

The judge also refused to admit an affidavit from a Pakistan-born speech writer who said he was tortured into giving false testimony that he had sex with Anwar.

Anwar is appealing separately his sodomy conviction.

Paul even sentenced to jail one defence lawyer, Zainur Zakaria, for filing an affidavit that two prosecutors in the case tried to cook up evidence against Anwar -- though this was overturned by the Federal Court on appeal.

The appeal, a resumption of February hearings, was adjourned until Thursday.

Hearings are expected to last a few more days, but it is uncertain when Malaysia's highest court will rule, officials said.