Thursday, February 18, 2010

Opposition, lawyers question 'unusual' postponement

In the wake of Anwar Ibrahim's sodomy trial postponement today, questions are popping up whether star witness Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan is ready to be grilled by the defence team.

NONEPKR strategist and Batu MP Tian Chua (left) questioned the motive of today's postponement as lead counsel Karpal Singh was all geared up to cross-examine Saiful.

“My view is that if Saiful is cross-examined now, there will be a lot of inconsistencies and it will be problematic for the prosecution,” he said.

He added that if the defence won the appeal against the judge's decision not to recuse himself and the judge is changed, then the defence team will have another chance to cross-examine Saiful.

Tian, whose full name is Chua Tian Chang, said perhaps the prosecution fears that his story might be inconsistent.

“Hence, he needs more time to be coached. That is why I see they were not interested in continuing with today's proceedings,” he said.

The hearing had been adjourned to March 25, following Anwar's intended application to appeal trial judge Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah's decision not to recuse himself today.

Not entertained

Previously, Anwar's applications for a stay of the proceedings following various interlocutory appeals at the Court of Appeal or Federal Court were not entertained by justice Mohamad Zabidin.

sankara nair bukit aman teresea kok isa arrest pc 170908 01Anwar's lawyer Sankara Nair (right) said he was very surprised the judge had allowed a stay, despite shooting down all Anwar's applications in the past.

“In any case, we were prepared to cross-examine Mohd Saiful,” he told Malaysiakini.

Three foreign experts - two from Australia and one from India - were roped in by Anwar to observe the cross-examination.

The three - Dr Brian McDonald, a DNA expert from Sydney, Australia, and forensics experts Dr C Damodaran, from Chennai, India, and Dr David Wells from Melbourne, Australia - were in court, acting as advisers to Anwar's defence team.

Anwar's appeal to gain more evidence and documentation to allow his lawyers to prepare the case is still pending at the Federal Court, which has fixed Feb 25 for the hearing.

The opposition leader had also filed an appeal today over yesterday's Court of Appeal decision not to quash his sodomy charge. His application for a stay was rejecteed.

Irony in today's proceedings

PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, also thought it odd that this time around the prosecution seems to be the one to delay proceedings, previously they had blamed the defence.

The irony in today's proceedings was when the prosecution gave an authority (case law of a 2005 case) to Karpal before the court sat, should Anwar's application to recuse the judge prove unsuccessful.

NONEFollowing Justice Mohamad Zabidin's decision, Karpal (left) told the court that the defence was willing to start cross-examining Saiful.

There was no indication by Karpal then that he had instructions from Anwar to appeal.

After a short break, lead prosecutor solicitor-general II Mohamed Yusof Zainal Abiden stood up and asked Karpal whether he intended to appeal the judge's decision.

Yusof said he needed to know as the case law which he had given to Karpal on an appeal matter allows proceedings to be stayed.

Karpal replied that it was a defence privilege whether or not to file an appeal and indicated he would make the necessary application to appeal the recusal decision tomorrow.

“We are prepared to cross-examine Saiful. We do not want to be accused of employing delaying tactics,” he said, adding he was surprised at the prosecution's move to give the authority now.

Yusof said he had done so “as an officer of the court”.

An heated argument ensued between Karpal and Yusof which again resulted in the judge calling for a short break.

Justice Mohamad Zabidin then met both Karpal and Yusof in chambers and on coming back in open court ruled that he was bound by the 2005 case to allow a stay in the proceedings.

news courtesy of Malaysiakini

No comments: