Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Anwar loses bid to derail trial

KUALA LUMPUR - MALAYSIAN opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim lost his latest attempt to derail his sodomy trial on Wednesday when the judge refused to let his lawyers view police documents that could help discredit Anwar's accuser.

High Court Judge Mohamad Zabidin Diah ruled in favour of the prosecution's contention that there was no basis for the defense to obtain statements that Anwar's former aide, Saiful Bukhari Azlan, made to police in 2008.

Anwar is charged under a subsection of the law that provides for a prison sentence of up to 20 years for people who have consensual anal sex in this Muslim-majority nation. However, Mr Saiful testified in court that Anwar sodomised him without his consent at a condominium on June 26, 2008.

Anwar's lawyers believe the police transcripts might show that Mr Saiful initially told officials he had consensual sex with Anwar, thereby contradicting the 24-year-old accuser's evidence and showing that his story is tainted with discrepancies.

'The testimony of the witness will turn to stardust,' said Anwar's chief attorney, Karpal Singh. Judge Zabidin said the defence could not demand the police documents based on a mere hunch and that it was up to the prosecution to determine the specific charge, since both consensual and non-consensual sodomy charges provide for the same maximum prison sentence.

Anwar, a married 62-year-old with six children, has denied sodomising Mr Saiful at all. He insists the charge was cooked up by Prime Minister Najib Razak's administration to cripple his opposition coalition after it made unprecedented gains in March 2008 general elections. Mr Najib has denied any conspiracy. -- AP

No comments: