The Federal Court today rejected PKR politician Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s bid to review his conviction and five-year prison sentence in his Sodomy II case.
The decision means the PKR de facto leader has exhausted all legal avenues to reverse the conviction that he maintains is part of a political conspiracy against him.
“[We] find there is no merit in this application. This is not a fit and proper case for this court to exercise its inherent jurisdiction to exercise its discretion to review,” said Chief Judge of the High Court of Malaya Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin who chaired the five-man panel today.
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.
Anwar had on April 30, 2015 applied for the Federal Court to review a decision by another panel, arguing that it was necessary to prevent injustice and that his conviction was objectively unsafe.
In a court document, Anwar highlighted a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office that was issued minutes after his conviction and before even his lawyers could mitigate, claiming this suggested that he did not receive a fair and independent hearing.
Anwar also singled out the conduct of lead prosecutor Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, a private lawyer appointed by fiat, after the Federal Court’s February 10decision, saying that the latter had verbally attacked him while purportedly explaining the case in an Umno-linked roadshow.
Today, Zulkefli said there was no merit in Anwar’s argument that the PMO’s alleged “swift and premature” statement justified a decision review, noting that there was no evidence to show the PMO and the Federal Court had communicated either before or after the conviction decision.
Pointing out that the Federal Court had then returned with a full written judgment several months after hearing both sides in Anwar’s appeal, Zulkefli said there was nothing credible to back Anwar’s “mere assertion” that the PMO statement had given the impression that he did not receive a fair and independent hearing as an accused person.
Disagreeing that Shafee’s conduct after the February decision had caused Anwar’s conviction to be objectively unsafe, Zulkefli said Shafee’s “alleged misconduct if any” has no influence on the Federal Court’s decision and that Anwar had not shown evidence to suggest such influence.
Zulkefli also addressed Anwar’s third ground of complaint, where the latter’s lawyer cited the conduct of his trial and the judgments by both the High Court and Court of Appeal when alleging a “miscarriage of justice” due to alleged violation of the rules of natural justice.
Going through various issues such as the alleged compromise of the crime scene’s integrity and alleged tampering of evidence, Zulkefli said these points which were raised were not within the permitted circumstances for the court to exercise its powers of review.
Earlier on, Zulkefli said the Federal Court has the powers and discretion to order a review of its own decision in order to prevent injustice or abuse of court process, but noted such discretion is to be used sparingly in “exceptional cases where substantive injustice has probably occurred and there was no alternative effective remedy.”
Those who were present in the packed courtroom today included Anwar’s wife and PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Parti Amanah Negara president Mohamad Sabu, national laureate Datuk A. Samad Said, former law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim and opposition federal lawmakers such as DAP MP Teresa Kok, Amanah MP Datuk Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah Raja Ahmad and PKR MP Gooi Hsiao Leung.
Anwar had asked the Federal Court to either set aside his conviction and sentence by the Court of Appeal or have the Federal Court rehear his appeal.
On February 10, 2015, the Federal Court upheld an earlier 2014 ruling by the Court of Appeal for the conviction and five-year prison term of Anwar over the sodomy of his former political aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan in 2008.
Convicts in Malaysia are typically allowed a remittance of their prison terms, in which one-third of their sentence is taken off and they are given early release.
This would mean that Anwar ― who has already spent around one year and ten months in prison ― could be freed in 2018, instead of having to serve the entire five-year jail term until 2020.
Anwar has also filed an appeal against the Kuala Lumpur High Court’s decision to deny him leave to challenge the Pardons Board’s refusal to grant him royal pardon, with the appeal hearing at the Court of Appeal scheduled for January 18.
Source : IDA LIM @ The Malay Mail Online