08 February, 2010

Malaysia:"The judicial institution of any country must be respected"

Malaysia has asked foreign governments to 'respect' its legal system and processes after Australian parliamentarians criticised the ongoing trial of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on sodomy charges.

The foreign office has reminded 'certain foreign governments, which have begun meddling and protesting against the ongoing sodomy trial' of Ibrahim, that the sanctity of the Malaysian judiciary has remained 'intact and free of external influences'.

'The judicial institution of any country must be respected.

'The case has just begun, so let the trial go on. They should not be creating their own trial by making damaging comments,' Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Senator A. Kohilan Pillay said Sunday.

He said that while Malaysia welcomed foreign representatives here to follow the trial, foreign governments must observe the country's laws.

Australia's Parliamentary Sub-Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael Danby recently accused the Malaysian legal system of being manipulated by supporters of Barisan Nasional, the ruling coalition, to drive the opposition leader out of politics.

Khairy Jamaluddin chief of the Umno Youth, youth wing of the ruling party, told the New Straits Times that some foreign governments' interference in the country's affairs would not bode well for relations between Kuala Lumpur and them.

'For some of these countries, nothing less than Anwar's acquittal would be acceptable.

'That is why they cast aspersions on our legal system and prejudge the outcome of this case,' he said Sunday.

This is Ibrahim's second trial since 1998 when he was imprisoned, but eventually acquitted.

On day four of the trial Monday, his lawyer, ethnic Indian Karpal Singh, applied for High Court judge Justice Mohamad Zabidin Mohammed Diah to recuse himself, Star Online reported.

Singh said the judge's previous ruling in relation to the closed proceedings of the trial's second day 'brings to surface an element of real danger of bias'.

The proceedings took a dramatic turn when the judge was challenged Monday morning when the court was scheduled to hear cross-examination of Ibrahim's accuser, Mohammed Saiful Bukhari Azlan, who has accused Ibrahim of sodomising him last year.

Ibrahim's lawyer contended that Mohamad Zabidin has not adjudicated upon the applications made by his counsel 'with an open mind'.

Media and members of the public were allowed to be present in the court after being debarred last week.

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