Anwar's prior criminal cases cannot be raised in defamation suit

Anwar's prior criminal cases cannot be raised in defamation suit
Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia - Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's prior criminal case cannot be used to attack his character in a defamation suit, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

The court allowed Anwar's application to remove mention of a 2004 Federal Court judgment which alleged that he has homosexual tendencies, that formed part of the defence in a defamation suit.

Anwar is suing Senator Datuk Seri S. Nallakaruppan, Utusan Melayu (Malaysia) Bhd and its editor-in-chief, Datuk Abdul Aziz Ishak over a 2012 article published in Utusan Malaysia that claimed Anwar was unfit to lead the opposition coalition and a bisexual.

Justice Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim also dismissed cross appeals by Nallakaruppan and Utusan Melayu.

The judge agreed with the argument that Section 43 of the Evidence Act barred such references to previous criminal decisions.

Justice Abdul Aziz said written grounds would be delivered in two weeks.

In its unanimous decision, the three-man panel which also included Justices David Wong Dak Wah and Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim, ordered RM15,000 in cost be paid to Anwar.

Anwar's lawyer Shahid Adli Kamarudin told reporters that the case is fixed for case management on June 4.

Lawyer Sarah Abishegam acted for Nallakaruppan, while Muhammad Asmirul Asraf Fadli represented Utusan.

Anwar had filed a RM100mil suit on March 25, 2012 alleging that Nallakaruppan had uttered defamatory words against him, published in a front page story in Utusan Malaysia.

In his statement of claim, Anwar said the statement implied he was of low morals, unqualified to hold the Opposition leader's post and a Muslim leader whose conduct is not in accordance with Islamic teachings.

Nallakaruppan's statement of defence referenced the majority decision by Federal Court on Sept 2, 2004, in which the panel acquitted Anwar of a charge of having sodomised his family's driver, Azizan Abu Bakar, at the Tivoli Villa in Kuala Lumpur in 1994.

Despite the acquittal, Justice Tun Abdul Hamid remarked in his judgement that Anwar had "homosexual tendencies".

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