Last edited: November 06, 2004

Court Dismisses Anwar Suit Against Mahathir

Reuters, February 23, 2001

KUALA LUMPUR — A Malaysian court on Friday dealt a final blow to jailed politician Anwar Ibrahim’s bid to sue Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad for defamation, dismissing his appeal to have the case heard.

The Federal Court, the country’s highest, ruled that former deputy premier and finance minister Anwar, serving 15 years on sex and corruption charges he says were trumped-up by Mahathir’s government, had no case against his ex-boss.

"They’ve dropped the last stone on him where this case is concerned," Anwar’s lawyer Karpal Singh told Reuters.

Anwar filed the suit in January 1999, accusing Mahathir of lying about him with malicious intent after sacking him.

A one-time Mahathir protege and a step away from the top seat, Anwar was suddenly thrown out of office on September 2, 1998, and arrested that same month on charges of sodomy and abuse of power.

Shortly after the arrest, Mahathir held a news conference where he detailed for the world media alleged homosexual acts by Anwar, which became the basis of Anwar’s suit.

The High Court, which first heard the suit, dismissed it in August 1999 as "frivolous, vexatious, and an abuse of the court process." Mahathir said in his defense that he had privilege to speak about Anwar in his capacity as prime minister.

At Anwar’s behest, the Court of Appeal took the suit up but dismissed it on similar grounds in December last year.

Anwar says Mahathir toppled him to prevent a leadership challenge and used the instruments of law and order to keep him in jail and out of his way. The prime minister says his ex-deputy was immoral and unqualified to succeed him.

With the suit struck out, Anwar’s remaining legal battles are a Federal Court appeal against his six-year corruption sentence, a Court of Appeal hearing on his nine-year sodomy sentence and a yet-to-be-heard suit on whether his sacking was unconstitutional.

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