Last edited: December 31, 2004

Corruption Conviction Review ‘Could Take a Year’

The Straits Times, September 4, 2004

By Leslie Lau

KUALA LUMPUR—Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s lawyers will be in court on Monday in a final attempt to clear his conviction on corruption charges, but the process could take up to a year.

‘Our grounds are that the entire prosecution against my client was a flawed process,’ his lawyer, Mr Sankara Nair, told The Straits Times.

Malaysia’s former deputy premier wants the Federal Court to overturn its own decision in a judicial review, something that is rarely done.

He was freed on Thursday from a separate prosecution for sodomising his wife’s driver, and is fighting now to clear his name completely.

It would remove the last obstacle to the resumption of his political career.

He is disqualified from contesting any election or holding a post in any political party for five years. The period started from April last year, when he completed his jail sentence for corruption.

Mr Sankara said yesterday that, in the interest of justice, Datuk Seri Anwar was considering applying for a certificate of urgency to expedite the judicial review.

He said the Federal Court would determine on Monday if it will even allow a judicial review of the case.

‘If we are eventually successful, then he will be free to take an active part in party politics,’ he said.

Mr Sankara acknowledged that it would be an uphill battle, noting that the Federal Court would review its own decision only on exceptional grounds, such as serious injustice or public interest.

The Federal Court can refuse outright to even entertain the application based on the principle that there needs to be finality in cases.

It would then leave Datuk Seri Anwar out in the wilderness until April 2008.

The current government’s term expires in March 2009, but elections can be called any time before that.

Mr Sankara acknowledged that parts of the Federal Court judgment that ultimately freed Datuk Anwar was also damaging to his client.

Judge Datuk Abdul Hamid Mohamed said there was evidence that Datuk Seri Anwar and his adopted brother Sukma Dermawan Sasmitaat Madja were ‘involved in homosexual activities’, but the prosecution had failed to prove sodomy against Azizan Abu Bakar.

‘I thought it was a bit unfair, but it will not have any bearing on our application for judicial review,’ said Mr Sankara.

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