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Thursday, September 02, 2004

Court frees Anwar

In a 2-1 decision, the country's highest court today set former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim free after quashing his sodomy conviction. Also freed was his adopted brother Sukma Darmawan Sasmitaat Madja who had been convicted of the same offence.

From Bernama

The panel of judges answered the issue in the negative.

Among Justice Abdul Hamid's reasons was that the essential part of the offence had not been proven by the prosecution, as Azizan, being the only source for the date of the offence, showed inconsistency, contradiction and demeanour when giving evidence on the issue, therefore not making him a reliable source.

He said that Azizan's evidence on the date of the incident was doubtful as he had given three different dates in three different years, the first two covering a period of one month each and the last covering a period of three months.

From CNN

Prime Minister Ahmad Abdullah Badawi, who succeeded Anwar as Mahathir's hand-picked heir, had been expected to take a softer line toward Anwar and put the divisive issue behind Malaysia after he took office last year.

Judge Abdul Hamid Mohamad read out the verdict over 11/2 hours. As it became apparent that Anwar, 57, would be freed, the former deputy prime minister -- wearing a neck brace and confined to a wheelchair -- exchanged excited glances with family members and gave a thumbs-up sign.

"We are not prepared to uphold the conviction," Abdul Hamid said. "We therefore allow this appeal and set aside the conviction and the sentence."

Abdul Hamid said that conviction was flawed because the chief prosecution witness, Azizan Abubakar, had repeatedly changed the dates of that he claimed Anwar had committed homosexual acts with him.

From BBC

Thursday's appeal to Malaysia's Federal Court - the country's highest - was the last legal opening for the former minister.

The court was reviewing an earlier rejection of Anwar's appeal - but decided to quash the original conviction by a vote of 2-1.

"We allow the sentence and conviction to be set aside. We find the High Court misdirected itself. He should have been acquitted," said Judge Abdul Hamid Mohamad, head of a three-judge panel.

The conscience urges us to go to a place of safety from condemnation. Why have a conscience if we can never live above condemnation?

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Datin Paduka Rahmah Hussain
Datuk Abdul Hamid Mohamad

BJ 2:11 PM