Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Anwar’s verdict - who is really guilty?

10:33AM Mar 11, 2014
MP SPEAKS Anwar Ibrahim was found guilty by the Court of Appeal. Given the political scenario, in particular the Kajang Move, the decision was not really a surprise. After all, Anwar’s trial or appeal has never been usual to begin with.

When the Kajang Move was initiated by Anwar, his enemies also moved other initiatives. Apparently for nowAnwar’ s enemies seemed to have checkmated the Kajang Move. But this is not a chess game. Underestimating Anwar’s strength is at his enemies’ own peril.

Justice delayed, justice denied is a well known maxim of justice. But in Anwar’s trial what we really see is justice hurried, justice buried. Unholy haste is the tagline of Anwar’s verdict. Our judges with superb legal minds only needed a short time to pronounce the verdict despite the appeal inter alia dealth with intricities of  technical evidence. It prompted many to whisper this -were the judges merely reading out the ready-made script ? We only hope that was not the case.

Normalcy has never been the character of Anwar’s trial. The decision of the Court of Appeal’s judgment seems to reinforce this.

Anwar has been found guilty for an alleged offence of sodomy. But we tend to forget that in reaching the guilty rerdict against Anwar, there were other entities and institutions which had equally committed the gravest offences againts the nation. The only difference is that no declaration of guilty has been found against all these culprits.

Anwar’s trial unfortunately demonstrates the ugly pictures of the police investigation. It was a shoddy investigation by a shoddy investigator. The investigating officer in Anwar’s trial was declared as a liar by Suhakam, yet the lawyer acting for the prosecution in Anwar’s appeal, in his oral submission in the appeal, demanded the appellate forum to accept the evidence of this unreliable witness as a basis to allow the prosecution’s appeal.

To add salt to the injury, this lawyer even participated in Suhakam’s inquiry declaring this police officer as a liar. Not only Suhakam did not believe the reliability of this questionable witness, even the High Court judge accepted and upheld the Bar Council’s objection to the admission of this witness as a lawyer because of his doubtful integrity.

It remains a legal mystery how on earth the Court of Appeal could easily accept the testimony of Jude Pereira (left), thus warranting an appellate court’s interference overturning the High Court’s decision.

The investigation is the bedrock of the criminal law. The main objective of criminal investigation is inter alia to ascertain the truth, thus identfying the real perpetrator of the crime. Any infirmities resulting from shoddy investigation would jeopardise not only the prosecution but also the accused person.

Reliability of evidence compromised

But the real threat is against the accused for the accused is presumed innocent until proven otherwise. An innocent person could be easily implicated when prosecution is based on poor and shoddy investigation. It goes without saying the credibility and integrity of the prosecuting officer played an important role in the entire scheme of investigation.

You don’t have to be a legal genius to doubt the evidence of investigating officer who failed to follow even the simple guideline in keeping the prosecution’s exhibit, what more the perishable exhibit. When the material exhibit i.e. the DNA samples were kept in the police cabinet instead of the refrigirator, the reliability of such vital evidence were duly compromised.

Such perishable exhibits needed to be meticulously preserved in order to prevent them from being degenerated, failing which the inevitable conclusion would be that such evidence would not be safe to be relied upon. In any civilisied jurisdiction, such evidence would not have seen the light of the day, yet our appellate forum failed to hold that the doubtful evidence were sufficient to cast doubt on the prosecution’s case.

It is not only the integrity of the investigating officer which was on trial. Even the prosecutorial agency has failed to exhibit the true and genuine profesionalism in its prosecuting tasks.

The principle of equality and fairness seems to be an exception rather a norm in prosecuting the opposition leaders. The constitutional protection of equality of treatment enshrined in Article 8 of the federal constitution has been frequently violated rather than adhered to. Anwar’s appeal is a glaring example of unequal treatment of citizens.

The crime linked to Razak Baginda was the most heinous in the history of our nation. It brings the entire administration of our justice system into disrepute.Yet hitherto the perpetrators of Altantuya Shaariibuu’s murder have not been convicted, let alone punished. Razak Baginda was not found guilty. Yet the attorney-general (AG) did not file any appeal against the High Court decision acquiting Razak Baginda.

The AG did not even bother to engage the service of any senior private lawyer to conduct the trial of Razak Baginda. Even he himself did not see it as his esteemed responsibility to helm the prosecuting team bringing all the pepetrators of Altantuya’s murder to real and meaningful justice. People see Razak Baginda’s trial as merely a show trial.

Ling Leong Sik is another classic example of unequal treatment of our citizens. The AG never attempted to put the decision of the trial judge in this case to an appellate test as he did to Anwar’s case.

All these beg the following question: who was really on trial in Anwar’s fiasco, or to put it boldly who was really guilty in Anwar’s trial?

MOHAMED HANIPA MAIDIN, the Member of Parliament for Sepang, is a lawyer by profession and a PAS central committee member.

~ Malaysiakini

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