Anwar to rely on Federal Court ruling to quash sodomy conviction

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PETALING JAYA: Anwar Ibrahim could be relying on a Federal Court judgment delivered last year to set aside his sodomy conviction, allegedly obtained on perjured evidence by a crown witness.

In that civil case, a five-man bench chaired by the then chief justice Arifin Zakaria held that fraud included perjury and an aggrieved party could rely on Section 44 of the Evidence Act to quash an earlier court verdict.

Anwar’s lawyer N Surendran said the legal team would rely on the same provision to revoke the conviction and sentence imposed by the Court of Appeal and later affirmed by the Federal Court.

He declined further comment.

Section 44 states that any party to a suit or proceeding can produce evidence if an incompetent court made a ruling, or a judgment was obtained by fraud or collusion.

In that case, a timber company, Seruan Gemilang Makmur Sdn Bhd, had obtained a RM37.4 million judgment in 2007 against the Pahang government for allowing a third party to trespass into its concession area.

The following year, the state government filed a fresh suit to set aside the judgment as a witness for the company had lied during trial and the government had only realised the deceit later.

Seruan Gemilang then applied to strike out the suit but the High Court dismissed the application and ordered a trial to be held to determine the allegation.

The Federal Court upheld the rulings of the High Court and Court of Appeal.

Others on the bench with Arifin were justices Ahmad Maarop, Ramly Ali, Zaharah Ibrahim and Aziah Ali.

Ramly, who delivered the apex court ruling on Feb 2 last year, said there was serious conflict on material facts, particularly relating to issues of fraud.

“This conflict can only be resolved by subjecting the deponents of the various affidavits to cross-examination and calling other witnesses whose evidence can only be evaluated by the court after seeing and hearing them,” he said.

Yesterday, Anwar filed a fresh suit in another attempt to be released from jail.

He said the finding of guilt must be set aside as the conviction was based on perjured evidence by his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

In the application, the former opposition leader said he should be freed from jail should the court rule in his favour.

In the statement of claim, Anwar said the government (public prosecutor) knew and had knowledge that Saiful was an untruthful witness.

“Saiful gave perjured evidence, which to the knowledge of the defendant (government), was false. Yet the defendant relied on and perpetuated the perjury to its advantage,” he said.

He said the government fabricated false evidence in the form of an alleged DNA sample and used it to support the perjured evidence of Saiful.

Anwar is currently serving a five-year jail sentence at the Sungai Buloh Prison for sexual misconduct on Saiful in 2008.

He was initially acquitted by the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Jan 9, 2012.

However, the Court of Appeal reversed the acquittal and sentenced him to five years’ jail on March 7, 2014.

On Feb 10, 2015, a five-man bench of the Federal Court, chaired by Arifin, maintained the conviction, saying it found that Saiful was a credible witness.

The bench also concluded that there was no break in the chain of evidence, as claimed by Anwar’s lawyers.

Anwar is scheduled to be freed from prison in August next year should he get the one-third remission on grounds of good behaviour.