PUTRAJAYA - Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, who accused his former employer Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim of sodomising him seven years ago, was found to be a credible witness, the key factor which led to the Opposition leader's conviction.
Chief Justice Arifin Zakaria said the five-man panel of the Federal Court agreed with the trial judge that there was "nothing inherently improbable" about Mohd Saiful's story about the sodomy.
"We, too, find him to be a credible witness," he said in a 54-page summary judgment which found Anwar, 67, guilty of sodomising his former aide in 2008.
The apex court yesterday rejected Anwar's appeal against his conviction and five-year jail term imposed by the Court of Appeal on March 7 last year. He is to serve the jail term.
Justice Arifin said that it took a lot of courage for a young man like Mohd Saiful to make such a disparaging complaint against a well-known politician like Anwar.
"Knowing that such an allegation might taint him, we cannot ignore the life-long negative effect such a serious allegation would have on him and his family even if the allegation were proven to be true.
"The minute details testified by Mohd Saiful gave his testimony the ring of truth, as unless he had personally experienced the incident, he would not be able to relate the antecedent facts and the sexual acts in such minute details," he said.
"It must be borne in mind too that despite the lengthy cross-examination, Mohd Saiful had withstood that gruelling session which the trial judge described as 'sometimes bordering on harassment'," he said.
Justice Arifin said Mohd Saiful spoke about his previous encounters he had with Anwar, the unpleasant sensation of pain and the reason for bringing the lubricant KY Jelly on the day of incident.
"He hid nothing. The trial judge found Mohd Saiful to be completely open and honest. The Court of Appeal has agreed with this finding," he said.
He said it was "a settled principle of law" that the credibility of a witness was the domain of the trial judge, adding: "An appellate court should be slow in interfering with the findings of the trial judge who had the audio visual advantage."
The judge also said Mohd Saiful was not a willing participant but in fact a victim.
While the defence contended that Mohd Saiful was an accomplice, the top judge said there was "ample corroborative evidence" to support Mohd Saiful's testimony that he was sodomised by the PKR leader.
The panel, he said, agreed with the Court of Appeal that Anwar had not created any reasonable doubt on the prosecution's case.
"The appeal against the conviction is dismissed. Accordingly, we affirm the decision of the Court of Appeal in convicting the appellant," he said.
Anwar was jailed five years on March 7, last year by the Court of Appeal for sodomising Mohd Saiful at the Desa Damansara condominium in Bukit Damansara on June 26, 2008.
Anwar had filed 35 grounds in his petition of appeal asking the apex court to overturn the Court of Appeal's ruling.
On Jan 9, 2012, the High Court acquitted Anwar after trial judge Justice Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah held that the court could not be 100 per cent certain after going through evidence that the integrity of the DNA samples had not been compromised.
Reports compiled by M. Mageswari, Qishin Tario, Sira Habibu, M. Kumar, Austin Camoens, Farik Zolkepli, Martin Carvalho, Hemananthani Sivanandamn, Rahimy Rahim, Nurbaiti Hamdan, Tashny Sukumaran, Sharanpal Singh Randhawa, D. Kanyakumari, Akil Yunus, and Adrian Chan.