By Hafiz Yatim
Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim scored a significant morale boosting victory today when the High Court said that the prosecution must ensure the attendance of its witnesses who are to be interviewed by the defence team.
Justice Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah said since the witnesses are offered by the prosecution (after Anwar was ordered to make his defence on the Sodomy II charge), as such, it is their responsibility to ensure they attend the interview session.
“However, it depends on the witnesses if they want to say anything in the interview. Hence, I am allowing both the defence applications,” Justice Zabidin said.
Solicitor-general II Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden had earlier submitted in court that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, his wife, Rosmah Mansor, and former inspector-general of police Musa Hassan and former Malacca police chief Mohd Rodwan Mohd Yusof would only come forward if they were subpoenaed.
With today’s ruling it is compulsory for the prosecution to ensure that the witnesses are brought to court to be interviewed by the defence team. All this must be done before next Monday.
The prosecution is also given the same time period to locate two Indonesian maids who worked for the condo unit owner Hasanuddin Abd Hamid, where the alleged sodomy incident happened.
The maids, Suliati and Fitria Dipan, have returned to Indonesia and they too are also sought by the defence.
Anwar’s defence team has been blinded from the start, after it was not provided copies of statements from 71 witnesses that were recorded by the police. The list includes Najib, Rosmah, Musa and Rodwan.
This follows the Federal Court overturning an earlier decision by Justice Zabidin that the prosecution provides to the defence all documents related to the case.
This moved the Bar Council to express concern over the suppression of evidence in the Anwar trial.
The opposition leader has maintained police conspiracy in the case as the alleged victim, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, had met with Najib and Rosmah two days before the alleged sodomy.
Failure to abide by today’s decision could see the persons offered as witnesses to be in contempt of the court order.
Commenting on the decision, Anwar, said it caught him by surprise, but it did not change his opinion that the court was still biased against him following the lengthy decision to call for his defence.
Blunder by the prosecution?
“It has presented us with an avenue to interview key witnesses, which is important for us,” he said.
“I think the prosecution made a blunder in offering these witnesses to us. Because when they offer they have to produce them (to be interviewed),” he said.
So let’s see what happens, Anwar said.
“Hopefully now the (prosecution) will come up with the witnesses that we have sought for.”
Now, he said, there is a court order and the witnesses are compelled to come to court to be interviewed.
Anwar also remarked that that former prime minister (Dr Mahathir Mohamad) had refused to be interviewed in the Sodomy I case but has continued to make scurrilous attacks on him.
The opposition leader said he was prepared to face any eventuality, even taking the stand today should his two applications be rejected.
His two Australian expert witnesses, forensic pathologist Dr David Wells and DNA specialist Dr Brian Mc Donald, were also present, in the eventuality they are called to testify after Anwar takes the stand.
The defence had only interviewed five witnesses since Anwar’s defence was called three months ago and has been furious about the sudden disruption to the provision of witnesses.
Those interviewed so far include former national athlete Mumtaz Jaafar, said to be a close friend of Rosmah, former special officer to Najib when he was the deputy premier Khairil Annas Jusoh and Pusrawi Hospital’s Dr Mohamad Osman Abdul Hamid, who was the first to examine Saiful.
Hospital Kuala Lumpur’s Dr Anantha Raj Daniel and Saiful’s sister Saidati have also been interviewed.
The defence had applied to interview another five witnesses, including Najib, Rosmah, Musa (right), Rodwan and condo unit owner Hasanuddin.
Anwar submitted a second application to interview another 10 witnesses, including Hasanuddin’s wife Noor Sham Abd Hamid and her former Indonesian maids, Suliati and Fitria.
The others are alibi witnesses who were said to be in the condo, including former PKR supreme council member Nik Mahmood Nik Hassan, former Bursa Malaysia chief operating officer Omar Malek Ali Merican, Deutsche Bank chief executive officer Raymond Yeoh, Anwar’s former bodyguards Mokhtar Mustafa and Abdullah Sani Said, and Anwar’s former driver, Mohd Khoharullah Abdul Majid.
Sankara: Musa, Rodwan coming tomorrow
In a related development, Anwar’s lawyer Sankara Nair (below, right) said Musa and Rodwan have agreed to come to the Kuala Lumpur court to be interviewed tomorrow morning.
He said the prosecution must produce the witnesses in court as directed by the judge and if they failed to appear, the defence could ask the court to issue warrants of arrest for not abiding by court’s decision.
“We will ask them several questions and they have the right not to answer. However, we will ask them why they do not want to answer.
“In the past, Hasanuddin said he wanted to come with his lawyer and the defence does not have a problem with that,” Sankara said.
Asked what he thinks may happen next Monday, the lawyer said should the interviews of all the witnesses sought be completed, then Anwar would take the stand.
Initially the defence offered Dr Wells and Dr Mc Donald to take the witness stand before Anwar, but the judge wanted Anwar to testify first as that is the procedure.
“If the prosecution fails to provide all the witnesses, then it may apply for another postponement. Another final option, which we do not know will happen, is for the prosecution to appeal today’s ruling by Justice Zabidin, as this is within their right.
“The ball is at the prosecution’s feet following the ruling today,” Sankara added. – Mkini