Saturday, March 8, 2014

Anwar’s conviction marks return of authoritarian rule, says lawyers’ group

MARCH 08, 2014
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's sodomy conviction yesterday has reaffirmed the return of authoritarian rule and the prime minister's false reformist credentials, Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) said today.
Its executive director Eric Paulsen (pic) said the fact that the Malaysian judiciary was neither impartial, independent nor free from "political manipulation and control" was apparent from the "lightning" speed the opposition leader's case was handled in the Court of Appeal yesterday.
"LFL is extremely shocked and appalled at the Court of Appeal’s ludicrous sodomy conviction and five years’ jail sentence against Anwar Ibrahim in what was clearly was a trumped up and politically motivated charge that has been universally condemned.
"The lightning speed in which the appeal against Anwar’s acquittal was brought forward and fully heard, having him convicted and sentenced in two days in order to disqualify him from running in the Kajang by-election, demonstrated clearly that in politically important cases, the judiciary is not impartial, independent and free from political manipulation and control," it said in a statement.
Paulsen hit out at the three-men bench, led by Justice Datuk Balia Yusof Wahi, along with Justice Aziah Ali and Justice Mohd Zawawi Salleh, who he said would go down in history for carrying out one of the "worst miscarriages of justice".
"Their names will live in infamy together with other infamous judges like Augustine Paul and Arifin Jaka who similarly perverted the law in order to convict Anwar on false charges," he added.
He said LFL was also shocked that Umno lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah was allowed to lead the prosecution team against Anwar despite his conflict of interest and his unsuitability.
"Shafee’s appointment smacks of desperation and sets another bad precedent, sending the wrong message that the authorities will go to extraordinary lengths to secure the conviction of Umno’s political adversaries," Paulsen said.
"This move proved to be scandalous as Shafee continuously misled the court on the law and facts and at every available opportunity, made outrageous personal attacks against Anwar especially during sentencing.
"We are shocked at the deep disarray of our criminal justice system and cannot believe that any reform is possible under the present government," he added.
Yesterday, the Court of Appeal overturned Anwar's 2012 acquittal for sodomy, and sentenced him to five years jail.
His former aide Saiful Bukhari Azlan had accused Anwar of sodomising him in 2008.
Balia delivered the court's decision in 90 minutes after hearing submissions from both parties.
The LFL had previously also slammed DAP chairman Karpal Singh's conviction for sedition, saying authoritarianism and political persecution had returned after a brief lull following Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's promise on democratic reforms, which it said now turned out to be a rebranding exercise and ultimately, false. – March 8, 2014.

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