There is no law in Malaysia to allow a convicted prisoner to be placed under house arrest, a criminal lawyer said.
“There is no such provision either in the Criminal Procedure Code or the Prisons Act to allow a convicted person to instead serve his time at home,” Baljit Sidhu said.
He said this in response to a report in the Weekend Australian that Anwar Ibrahim’s lawyers will settle for house arrest if efforts to get the jailed former opposition leader’s sodomy conviction set aside fails.
US lawyer Kimberly Motley was quoted saying that Anwar’s lawyers would again highlight the lack of DNA evidence and inconsistency of Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan’s testimony in the Oct 12 review application.
Baljit, who is also a law lecturer, said house arrest was only provided for in the United States and in Commonwealth countries like Australia and Pakistan.
“In Malaysia, those found guilty by a court of law and who have exhausted the appeal process must serve their sentence in a prison,” he added.
Baljit said he could only recall of one instance of a former Internal Security Act (ISA) detainee being held under house arrest but with conditions attached.
He said however, that the case of the ISA detainee has to be distinguished with a convicted prisoner.
“The detainee was held without trial and the Home Minister had the discretion to make an order for the detainee to be confined at home,” he added.
In February this year, human rights group Lawyers for Liberty also called for Anwar to serve his term under house arrest instead and that he receive medical treatment not available in prison.
In a statement to mark the first anniversary of his conviction and jail term, its executive director Eric Paulsen said Anwar’s imprisonment was a huge stain on Malaysia’s reputation.
The PKR de facto leader is currently serving a five-year sentence at the Sungai Buloh Prison for sexual misconduct on his former aide Saiful Bukhari in 2008.
Anwar, 68, was initially acquitted by the Kuala Lumpur High Court in 2012 but the Court of Appeal reversed the acquittal and sentenced him to five-years’ jail on March 7, 2014.
On February 10 last year, a five-man Federal Court bench chaired by Chief Justice Arifin Zakaria, in maintaining the conviction, said it found that Saiful was a credible witness.
The bench concluded that there was no break in the chain of evidence as claimed by Anwar’s lawyers.