Former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim will know tomorrow whether he has exhausted all legal channels to overturn his sodomy conviction.
Lawyer Bastian Vendargon said should the Federal Court rule in Anwar’s favour tomorrow, last year’s Feb 10 judgment would be set aside and there would a rehearing.
“Normally, that is what will happen as a consequence of a previous judgment being nullified due to lack of a proper hearing,” he told FMT.
He said in line with the rules of natural justice, a different bench would be constituted to rehear the appeal.
Bastian said Anwar’s lawyer could then apply to the court for the PKR de facto leader to be freed on bail pending the outcome of the rehearing.
The Court of Appeal, in March 2014, reversed the High Court’s acquittal and instead sentenced him to five years’ jail.
Bastian said, on the other hand, it could mean the end of Anwar’s legal battle should the bench dismiss the review application.
“He could then turn to the Pardons Board for clemency.”
During submission, Anwar’s lead counsel Gopal Sri Ram raised the issue of bias as the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had swiftly issued a statement five minutes after the court upheld the conviction.
Another ground for review was the conduct of ad-hoc prosecutor Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who went on a roadshow criticising Anwar and his lawyers soon after the final appeal was over.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid, in reply, said the PM’s press secretary Tengku Sariffuddin Ahmad affirmed this in an affidavit because Anwar had dragged the PMO into the review application.
He said the press statement did not reveal that the judiciary was muzzled and it was also unnecessary to display the other news release prepared in case Anwar had been freed.
He said Shafee’s conduct during the roadshow was irrelevant because it was done after the Federal Court had delivered its judgment.
No Federal Court bench has set aside the judgment of another panel in a criminal case although there has been a handful in civil cases.
On Feb 10 last year, a five-man Federal Court bench chaired by Chief Justice Arifin Zakaria maintained the conviction and the jail term of the Court of Appeal.
The bench concluded that there was no break in the chain of evidence, as claimed by Anwar’s lawyers.
Anwar is currently serving his sentence at the Sungai Buloh Prison for sexual misconduct against his former aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan in 2008.
Source : V Anbalagan @ FMT Online