The Malaysian Bar welcomes the decision of the High Court in acquitting Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim. The principles of natural justice call for nothing less, in light of the grave concerns over whether the accused’s right to a fair trial was preserved.
Based on news reports of the trial, it is clear that the High Court decision is in accord with the evidence for, amongst others, the following reasons:
(1) The lack of full disclosure: Both prior to and during the trial itself, the legal team for the defence was denied access to certain documents and physical evidence in the possession of the prosecution, which disadvantaged the accused in the preparation of his defence.
(2) Unreliable DNA evidence: There were obvious concerns that the DNA sample submitted as evidence was unreliable or may have been compromised.
(3) Certain unusual findings during the trial proceedings:
(a) The trial judge made an unprecedented finding at the end of the prosecution’s case that the complainant was a truthful and credible witness, without the benefit of having heard the defence.(b) While the court allowed the Prime Minister and his wife to be interviewed by the defence legal team, the subpoena issued by the defence compelling the attendance of the Prime Minister and his wife was set aside by the High Court upon the application of the prosecution. The absence of curiosity in this regard casts grave concerns on the credibility of the complaint in the first place.
(4) The unrefuted relationship between the complainant and a member of the prosecution team, which raised serious questions whether the complainant had access to investigation papers, which would have enabled him to tailor his evidence at trial.
The charge against Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim, which is based on an archaic provision of the Penal Code that criminalises consensual sexual relations between adults, should never have been brought. The case has unnecessarily taken up judicial time and public funds.
The Malaysian Bar hopes that the Attorney General would not pursue any appeal, and will instead focus the valuable resources of the Attorney General’s Chambers on more serious crimes.
Lim Chee Wee
9 January 2012