Malaysian Judge Defers Anwar Verdict
Reuters, August 3, 2000
By K. Baranee Krishnaan
KUALA LUMPUR A Malaysian judge on Thursday postponed a verdict in
the sodomy trial of sacked deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, originally set for Friday,
saying it was not yet ready.
The postponement came as Anwar supporters said they planned to defy a police ban and
rally in protest if he is convicted.
Police had warned that any gathering would be illegal without authorization and vowed a
crackdown. Under Malaysian law, any public assembly of more than five persons requires
Anwars legal team said he was upset with the deferment.
"He said hes unhappy with the postponement because it is unusual,"
Sankara Nair, one of Anwars lawyers, told Reuters after meeting the former minister
"It was done in the 11th hour and more so, no new date has been given. It
only leads to suspicion," Nair said, quoting Anwar.
High Court Judge Arifin Jaka said in a faxed letter to Nairs office on Thursday
that the verdict in the landmark trial would be postponed, but set no new date.
"His Lordship has still not completed his judgement," Nair said,
quoting the letter.
No Government Hand In Decision, Says Minister
The government denied having a hand in the decision.
"It is the courts prerogative to postpone its decision. We are in no
position to decide so," Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Syed Albar told reporters.
"What is most important is that we have to maintain law and order, peace and
stability so that we do not cause problems for the greater majority of Malaysians,"
said Syed Hamid, the only cabinet official who reacted to the postponement.
Anwars sodomy trial closed in July, 13 months after it began, and was one of the
longest criminal cases in Malaysia.
Conviction for sodomy carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail and whipping in
Police warned on Thursday they would arrest any pro-Anwar demonstrators at any time.
"Whether the verdict is tomorrow or next week, our warning still applies,"
city police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Reduan Aslie told Reuters. "Those who
group outside the court can be charged for illegal assembly."
Anwar and his adopted brother, Sukma Dermawan, face a maximum penalty of 20 years in
jail and whipping if convicted on a charge of sodomising their former family driver in
Anwar, sacked as finance minister and deputy prime minister in September 1998, says
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and his associates framed him in a sex scandal to drive
him from office and to stave off a possible leadership challenge.
Mahathir has denied the charge.
Anwar has been serving a six-year jail sentence since April last year after being
convicted on an abuse of power charge.
Anwars sacking in September 1998 and subsequent indictment on allegations of
sexual misbehavior have posed the biggest challenge to Mahathirs 19-years in power.
Anwar was Mahathirs anointed successor when he was removed.
Thousands took to the streets after Anwars ouster in September to demand the
resignation of Mahathir.
Anwars sacking helped the opposition score major gains against the government in
last Novembers general elections.
Hours after he was sentenced in April last year, the streets of Kuala Lumpur erupted in
protest as his supporters clashed with police who used tear gas, batons and water cannon
to disperse them.
[Home] [World] [Malaysia]