Anwar failed to cast doubt on sodomy charge, say Malaysian Appeal judges

Anwar failed to cast doubt on sodomy charge, say Malaysian Appeal judges

PUTRAJAYA - The Court of Appeal has sentenced Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to five years' jail because his defence was merely a bare denial.

The three-man panel, chaired by Justice Balia Yusof Wahi, ruled that Anwar had merely given a denial in a statement from the dock against a charge of sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan in 2008.

Justice Balia and two others, Court of Appeal judges Justices Aziah Ali and Mohd Zawawi Salleh, had on March 7 found Anwar guilty and sentenced him after they allowed the prosecution's appeal against his acquittal by the High Court.

Anwar was charged with sodomising Saiful, then 23, at a Desa Damansara condominium unit in Bukit Damansara between 3.10pm and 4.30pm on June 26, 2008.

In the 85-page written judgment dated April 11, made available yesterday, the panel said Anwar, 67, had failed to cast any doubt on the charge.

"A credible defence is one that answers the evidence thrown at it by the prosecution.

"It is also imperative that the respondent (Anwar) explains his case. For the respondent to succeed in his defence, it is incumbent upon him to adduce evidence which can answer the allegations in the charge," they said.

The judges added that Anwar did not even deny he was at the scene of the crime at the material time and date as stated in the charge.

He said Anwar also did not dispute the fact that Mohd Saiful had brought an envelope to him at the place of incident.

They stressed that Anwar had given notice of alibi and listed 14 witnesses in support of his alibi before commencement of the sodomy trial but never pursued for reasons only best known to him.

"It is pertinent to note that an alibi represents a complete defence to exculpate the respondent from the offence charged," they said.

On two expert witnesses - Prof David Lawrence Wells and Dr Brian Leslie McDonald - called by the defence to contradict and rebut the prosecution's expert witnesses, they held that their evidence were mere opinions as opposed to the evidence of two government chemists, which were factual and based on their own analyses of the samples.

"Both Prof Wells and Dr McDonald are mere 'armchair experts'," they said.

On the other hand, they said both government chemists had testified in detail on the analysis done and the reasons for reaching their conclusions.

Among others, they said the trial judge had fallen into serious error when he doubted the integrity of samples based on the evidence of the two defence experts.

"The finding of the trial judge is seriously flawed and merits our intervention.

"In our view, the reception by the trial judge of the defence expert witnesses' evidence is not objective and is one-sided.

"This is a serious error and falls far short of the proper approach that a judge should take when judicially appreciating evidence."

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