04 March, 2010

Bolehwood presents: The farce of 1Malaysia's Court of Appeal

Court of Appeal 'overly efficient' with Anwar

In what could possibly be a world record of sorts for a democratic country, the Court of Appeal has fixed the hearing of Anwar Ibrahim's appeal for the recusal of trial judge in his sodomy case even before the filing of the Petition of Appeal (POA).

Understandably his defence team is upset at the 'super efficiency' of the unprecendented move to fix the hearing for March 19.

This in effect adds to growing list of complaints that Anwar had throughout his sodomy trial over the bias and unfairness displayed by the judiciary and the prosecution.

These include his appeal, not getting evidence and documentation or the witness list which were rightly and properly due to his defence team.

Petition yet to be filed

Counsel Sankara Nair in a statement said the appellate court's move was "unprecedented in manner" when the lawyers have yet to file the Petition of Appeal (POA) but yet the date has been fixed.

"We were duly notified by the Registrar of the Court of Appeal, that it will hear Anwar's appeal on March 19. What is uniquely strange is that the Court of Appeal acted eagerly and with super efficiency in fixing the hearing even before the POA was filed."

"Indeed the appellate court has acted beyond the Rules of the Court of Appeal 1994 which sets out the procedure clearly," he said.

Sankara explained that upon receipt of the appeal records, the petitioner (Anwar) has 10 days to file to court the POA and only after that will the Court of Appeal proceed to fix a hearing date of the appeal.

The lawyer said in the present instance, the team received the appeal record on Monday from the High Court, and according to the Court of Appeal rules, Anwar has 10 days or March 11 to file the POA stating the grounds of appeal.

Departed from established norms

"It is only upon the filing of the POA that the Court of Appeal according to the rules would proceed to fix a date of the hearing. In this case, I have not even filed the POA yet to my sheer amazement, I was notified yesterday of the hearing date.

"The Court of Appeal has astonishingly departed from established norms in this appeal process involving Anwar. The unprecedented manner in which the Court of Appeal has acted is disturbing and outrageous," he said.

On Feb 18, Justice Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah, had refused to recuse himself following an application from lead counsel Karpal Singh, that the judge had acted with bias in not cautioning local daily Utusan Malaysia over their reports in the trial.

Mohamad Zabidin refused to remove himself, dismissing the allegation that he had lied in arriving at that decision.

He then postponed the hearing and fixed March 25 for mention when Anwar indicated that he would appeal the non-recusal decision.

Sankara noted that Anwar had previously made various appeals at the appellate court and the Federal Court by also simultaneously filing a certificate of urgency for an early hearing date.

However, he did not see such super efficiency in those instances.

"From the above actions, there seems to be a clear case of discrimination towards Anwar in the Court of Appeal's blatant disregard for the Rules as stated above and this is wholly unacceptable."

Anwar, is facing a charge of sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, at the Desa Damansara condominium, on June 26, 2008.

- Hafiz Yatim



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