PKR politician Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s lawyers have objected to the five judges sitting on a Federal Court panel today to decide on his last bid for acquittal in his second sodomy case.
The five-man panel in contention today is chaired by Chief Judge of the High Court of Malaya Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin.
The other judges on the panel are Chief Judge of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, Tan Sri Hasan Lah, Tan Sri Abu Samah Nordin, Tan Sri Zaharah Ibrahim.
All five judges had previously sat on the Federal Court panel that had this May rejected Anwar’s application to have former senior policeman Datuk Ramli Yusuff’s testimony brought in as new evidence to support his review application today.
Anwar’s lead counsel Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram highlighted two portion of the same panel’s May 23 judgment, arguing that the first portion showed that the judges had went into the merits of Anwar’s Sodomy II case.
“That would then put our application at risk. Because one of our grounds is that there was in fact a failure of natural justice and in fact the decision was not in accordance with legal principles.
“There is one request that this court consider assigning a different panel to hear this case,” Gopal said.
Datuk Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid, head of the Attorney-General’s Chambers Trial and Appellate Division, replied however that “there is no element of bias” in both portions.
Gopal later conceded that the prosecution was right to say the second portion did not show bias on the part of the five judges, but insisted on his objection based on the first portion.
The judges have adjourned briefly to decide on Gopal’s request.
Today is scheduled for the hearing of Anwar’s application for the Federal Court to review its decision last year to convict and sentence him to five years in jail for sodomy.
Yesterday, Anwar’s lawyer Latheefa Koya said a request had been sent to the Federal Court registrar last Friday to seek the exclusion of 13 of its judges from sitting on today’s panel, due to their previous handling of matters related to two sodomy cases.
There are 15 Federal Court judges. Court of Appeal judges can sometimes sit in the Federal Court.
On February 10, 2015, the Federal Court upheld an earlier ruling for the conviction and five-year jail term of Anwar over the sodomy of his former political aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan in 2008.