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 Ibrahims bid to sue Prime Minister
Mahathir Mohamad for defamation, dismissing his appeal to have the case heard.
The Federal Court, the countrys highest, ruled that former deputy
premier and finance minister Anwar, serving 15 years on sex and corruption
charges he says were trumped-up by Mahathirs government, had no case
against his ex-boss.
"Theyve dropped the last stone on him where this case is
concerned," Anwars 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 Anwars 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 Anwars 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, Anwars 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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