Anwar Judgement Coming Aug. 4
July 18, 2000
SUMMARY: In a dramatic last minute move the reform leader charged
with sodomy fired his attorneys to state his case for himself.
The record-breaking 13-month trial for sodomy of Malaysias former "prime
minister in waiting" Anwar Ibrahim finally drew to a close July 18, but not without
one last surprise. Anwar wished to make his own statement to High Court Judge Ariffin
Jaka, but Judge Ariffin required him to fire his defense team in order to do so, and
thats what he did July 17. Anwardenounced the top-level political conspiracy he
swears is responsible for fabricating the charges against him and asked Judge Ariffin for
a fair verdict. When Anwar finished, Judge Ariffin said, "I will judge this case from
the evidence, as I perceive it, so dont worry. I am not easily swayed. Being a
Muslim, I am answerable in the next world. Now, my headache starts," he said, as he
announced he would deliver his verdict on August 4. Conviction could mean up to 20 years
imprisonment for Anwar.
Anwar was Finance Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and heir-apparent to aging Prime
Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamed who marked his 19th anniversary in office on July 16
until their disagreements grew increasingly intense during the regional economic
crisis of 1997 - 1998. On September 2, 1998, Mahathir unceremoniously dumped Anwar from
his Cabinet posts, and he was booted from his leadership role in the ruling UMNO (United
Malays National Organization) party as well. Anwar raised crowds in the tens of thousands
denouncing government corruption and cronyism until he was jailed September 20, 1998 as a
threat to national security.
Soon thereafter, he received a dangerous beating, which a year later Malaysias
then-top law enforcement officer Rahim Noor finally admitted to delivering. Then a lengthy
trial began on four charges of corruption, actually alleged abuse of his power to cover up
alleged sexual misconduct. The handling of that trial caused deep concern among both
Malaysian and international observers; it ended in April 1999 with conviction and a
six-year sentence for Anwar that effectively put him out of the political picture.
However, Anwar had become a symbol for the proponents of "reformasi," who
rallied behind his wife Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail to double the opposition seats in the
parliament in November elections, although that is still far less than the monolithic
In June 1999, the current trial began, charging that one night in the period January -
March 1993 Anwar and his adopted brother Sukma Dermawan Saasmitaat Madja had forced sex on
Anwars wifes former driver Azizan Abu Bakar; before the trial began,
prosecutors twice changed the year in which the offense was to have taken place. Sukma
stood trial along with Anwar charged both with sodomy himself and with abetting
Anwars sodomy; because he is under 50, Sukmas punishment could include
whipping with a cane. Azizans testimony is essentially the only evidence the
prosecution offered, but Anwar claims Azizan was bribed as part of the conspiracy, and
even the judge remarked at one point that Azizans story appeared to change from day
to day. The prosecution maintained that after seven years, Azizans
"contradictions" proved his evidence "is not fabricated or coached; in fact
it makes him more credible."
With 31 witnesses, the defense offered alibis for Anwar for the entire three months and
offered some testimony regarding the conspiracy theory, although it has been unable to
force Mahathir to testify.
Selections from Anwars Statement
Speaking from the dock Judge Ariffin denying a motion for him to make his
statement from the defense table - Anwar said, "My action [dismissing his attorneys]
does not in any way question the competence and credibility of my lawyers. They have done
such a brilliant job, I cant think of a better team. They are part of my family. But
I have to do this to respond to some matters that have been raised personally against me
by the prosecution. I am the accused and the issues, the events, the circumstances are
known to me."
"The defense contention has consistently been that of a conspiracy involving the
chief himself, the Prime Minister, who was the maestro orchestrating the entire scheme.
The instrument of government was unfortunately used and abused. There were political and
economic issues involved."
"Ive contended that there was adequate motive to keep me dismissed and
charged and convicted. Top police personnel and the attorney general were acting under the
instructions of the Prime Minister." Rahim would not have beaten him "without
getting some tacit approval to teach that man a lesson, if possible to finish
him."Anwars "1993 [official] diary was conveniently found missing
and that coincided with the charge against me."
"This is a dirty, despicable conspiracy. They want a conviction at all costs. ....
That is horrendous and it is a crime."
In the course of Anwars statement, Judge Ariffin interrupted several times asking
Anwar to focus on the charges and the evidence. He finally barred Anwar from saying any
more about the conspiracy at all.
Anwar said, "I did not go to the apartment [where the allegedly sodomy occurred]
between January and March 1993. Secondly, I did not commit the offense as alleged. No
evidence was ever adduced by the prosecution that I was ever seen at that place. Where are
the records? ... It was virtually impossible for me to move without a police escort. Not a
single person has testified that he saw me in the apartment. There is fabrication of
evidence and the prosecution relying solely on the testimony of Azizan with no
corroboration despite the earlier assurance by the Attorney General that they had
monitored my movements from 1992 to 1998."
Judge Ariffin actually praised Anwars handling of the last two days of his own
case, saying, "I think you should take up law. You have done well."
Anwar was allowed to speak to reporters after leaving the courtroom and before being
returned to jail. He said, "Based on the evidence, the alibis, the prosecutors have
no case. But the conviction is coming through."
One of his attorneys, Christopher Fernando, was more optimistic, saying, "I would
be shocked, absolutely shocked, if these two people are convicted. I think the nation
would be shocked. The whole world would be shocked. For generations to come, Malaysians
will have to live down the shame."
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