Najib Slammed For Unfair, Un-Islamic Trial Against Anwar

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 2: Pakatan Rakyat and leaders from both local and international civil society groups have condemned Prime Minister Najib Razak for forcing through what they say is clearly a sham sodomy trial against reform icon Anwar Ibrahim.

The 62-year old Anwar, who is also Opposition Leader of the Pakatan, is being victimized a second time by Najib's Umno-BN coalition, which fears his charismatic leadership and growing clout with voters may end their 52 years of political hegemony. In 2008, the Pakatan won control of five states and for the first time denied Umno-BN its long-held two-thirds parliamentary majority.

“The nation is about to go on another round of agony and humiliation,” PKR strategic director Tian Chua told Harakahdaily. “What we are witnessing is a dying regime’s last ditch bid to stay alive at any cost.”

“This trial is unfair and against Islamic law which emphasizes fair play. It certainly will exact a very drastic toll on Malaysia - both on the morale of its people and the well-being of its economy,” Dr Syed Azman, head of PAS’s international bureau, told Harakahdaily.

Unfair trial, against UN guidelines

On Tuesday, the Kuala Lumpur High Court quashed Anwar’s application for a stay of his sodomy trial pending his appeal for a judicial review of last week’s Federal Court decision not to allow his lawyers access to key evidence held by the prosecution. The sodomy trial proper will now resume on Wednesday at 2.30pm.Although not unexpected - given the Malaysian judiciary's record of bowing to political pressure - the refusal for more time pending documents still sparked renewed outrage both within the country and overseas.

“Even in 1998, the international community made it very clear the sodomy charges put up by Dr Mahathir against Anwar were rigged. Yet 11 years later, Malaysia is once again on trial for the world to see and for the same reason, which is basically that of having a morally bankrupt government," Azman said.

“This speaks very poorly about our current Prime Minister Najib Razak. That in 2010, he has to revert to an old script using new actors show firstly, his morals are no better than his predecessors, and secondly, he has no ideas of his own. Definitely, he is not the man to lead Malaysia."

Malaysia had defied the UN Human Rights Commission guidelines which define a fair trial as one where both defense and prosecution have access to the same key evidence. Although Malaysian lawmakers had last year inserted such a provision into Section 51 of the Criminal Code Procedure to comply with the UN standards, the judges ignored the amendment.

Both the UN Human Rights Commission and Amnesty International have since sent protest notes to Najib, but he has not commented on the matter, passing the hot potato to his former Umno colleague and Chief Justice Zaki Azmi instead. Unsurprisingly, Zaki was incommunicado when Anwar’s lawyers tried to approach him for an early review date. Instead, they were referred to the Chief Judge of Malaya, who agreed to see them on Wednesday.

“The Federal Court in review must put right what is obviously wrong, to ensure a fair trial,” Anwar told reporters. “I want the trial to begin but I must have the documents or my lawyers will be handicapped in their defence.”

“The judiciary is once again pandering to the ruling elite and not to justice and fair play. But it will be the people – the voters in particular – who will be the final judge. And this a warning that Najib and his Umno-BN would do well to bear in mind,” Tian said.

Asian icons Anwar, Suu Kyi persecuted

As expected the High Court was packed not just with supporters and journalists but also scores of foreign dignitaries and embassy staff, who turned up to signal their governments’ displeasure at the way Anwar was being persecuted.

Indeed Anwar and Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi are two of Asia's most renowned democracy fighters. Both have launched fierce battles to unshackle their people from political hegemony. In Myanmar, it is the military junta. In Malaysia, the Umno-BN's regimented democracy. Both have been widely denounced for massive corruption and suppression of human rights.

But as it becomes clearer that Malaysians will in vote Anwar and Pakatan when the next general election falls due – latest by March 2013 – the scandal-hit Najib has begun playing hardball to stay in power.

According to Anwar, who plans to subpoena both the PM and his wife Rosmah Mansor as witnesses, the country's first couple had met his accuser Saiful Bukhari Azlan two days before the latter lodged his police complaint.

"They had initially denied the meeting. Now Najib has admitted he had met Saiful and we want to know more,” Anwar said. “If Najib and the government can manage to cover up the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder, what more this? This second round of sodomy charges is a desperate attempt to frame me and stop the Pakatan’s advance."

Un-Islamic, where are the 4 witnesses?

And despite portraying itself as the defender of Islam in the country, Najib's Umno party has pulled out all stops to keep the case out of the Syariah Courts, where Islamic laws decree there must be at least four witnesses before a trial such as this can proceed. Otherwise it is fitnah or slander most foul.

“This is exactly why the Malays and the Muslims are turning away from Umno. They keep talking about championing Islam and yet it is obvious to all that the Syariah Court unnecessarily delayed hearing the case. Why?” Azman said.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the majesty and fairness of Islamic law, yet Umno shies away from it. Why? After all, both accuser and accused are Muslims and both are agreeable to having the case tried under Islamic law.

"Could it be that this is because the Islamic courts demand a higher level of evidence for cases of this type - and which both Saiful and Umno cannot produce, hard as they try.”

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