KUALA LUMPUR: A High Court judicial commissioner has again recused himself from hearing a controversial lawsuit, this time involving former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who is suing the government over alleged fraud in his Sodomy 2 conviction.
Judicial Commissioner Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh said he had decided to recuse himself from hearing Anwar’s suit on the grounds that he was the deputy home minister in 2008 when the sodomy case occurred.
“In that capacity and in the anticipation of parliamentary questions at the Dewan Rakyat, I remember being briefed by the then director of the criminal investigation department on what is known as Sodomy 2.
“The case before me now revolves around Sodomy 2, and the issue raised is whether there was an element of purported perjury on the part of the main prosecution witness,” he said in a statement handed to lawyers concerned in chambers.
Wan Ahmad added that he had been briefed on how Anwar was arrested.
“Although I did not have access to the IP (investigation paper), I could have, and there lies a reasonable likelihood of bias.
“Thus it is proper for me to recuse myself,” he said, adding that justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done.
Anwar’s lawyer, N Surendran, said the case would now be fixed for case management on Aug 10 before the High Court registrar.
Earlier, on May 24, Wan Ahmad had stepped down from hearing Prime Minister Najib Razak’s lawsuit against Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua for uploading a live video on Facebook, related to the tabling of the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 or Act 355.
Najib claimed the video was directed at him and done in malice and with the intention to defame him.
Wan Ahmad, in recusing himself from hearing Najib’s case, said he was an active politician, and at one time a member of former prime minister Abdullah Badawi’s administration and a Dewan Negara member.
In January 2009, Wan Ahmad contested under an Umno ticket in a by-election for the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary seat but lost to a PAS candidate.
He was appointed judicial commissioner on Dec 15, 2015, a day after he resigned from Umno.
On April 17, Anwar sued the government, claiming that the Court of Appeal and Federal Court had convicted him of sexual misconduct based on the perjured evidence of Saiful Bukhari, the crown witness in the criminal trial.
Anwar will rely on Section 44 of the Evidence Act to revoke the conviction and sentence imposed by the Court of Appeal and later affirmed by the apex court.
Section 44 states that any party to a suit or proceeding can produce evidence if an incompetent court had made a ruling, or a judgment was obtained by fraud or collusion.
Anwar, 69, also wants the court to set him free if the suit is allowed.
In his statement of claim, Anwar said the government or public prosecutor knew that Saiful was an untruthful witness.
He said the government had fabricated evidence in the form of an alleged DNA sample and used it to support the perjured evidence of Saiful.
Anwar was first acquitted by the 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 then-chief justice Arifin Zakaria, maintained the conviction, saying it found that Saiful was a credible witness.