The Trials and Tribulations of Anwar Ibrahim
|The trial of former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim became a point of contention with Malaysia about to host the mammoth APEC summit of world leaders in November. Critics say the trial and allegations police beat the 51-year-old Anwar highlight the country's human rights abuses.|
NATION ON TRIAL: Malaysia's institutions come under scrutiny
On Monday, November 2, 1998 the trial of Malaysia's Anwar Ibrahim got off on an apparently tough start. Malaysia's sacked finance minister, Anwar Ibrahim, said on his criminal trial had got off to a tough start after the judge denied observer status to foreigners and the local bar council.
It was an impressive if somewhat familiar, sight. Black police vans are parked alongside the historic Merdeka [freedom or independence] Square in downtown Kuala Lumpur. Interspersed among them are bright-red riot-police trucks with water cannons. Uniformed officers try to keep the traffic moving; standing sentinel nearby are red-helmeted riot police, armed with batons and shields, and black-bereted paramilitary men with automatic rifles. Since early September, the square has been the scene of frequent anti-government demonstrations - and security forces have become virtually a permanent fixture at this most famous of the capital's landmarks. And so this is the scene on Monday, November 2, 1998 - the first day of a closely watched corruption trial in the adjacent federal courthouse. The heavy police presence achieves its aim: the only disturbance of note occurs when reporters engage in a shoving contest to enter the courthouse and grab one of the seats allotted to the press.
It is an equally impressive sight inside the courtroom, if for a different reason. At the front are some of the finest legal minds in the country. Heading the prosecution is Abdul Gani Patail, widely regarded as one of the best prosecutors in the government's legal department. He is backed by a stellar cast of lawyers with solid experience in criminal cases. No less dazzling is the defense, led by Raja Aziz Addruse, a former Bar Council chairman and a human-rights advocate. His team includes Christopher Fernando, one of Malaysia's top criminal lawyers, and noted Islamic-law experts Kamar Ainiah Kamaruzaman and Sulaiman Abdullah.
And then there is the defendant himself. Former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim looks rested, if a little paler and thinner than before. Once a much-feted rising star of Malaysian politics, Anwar is being tried on four of 10 counts of corruption and sexual misconduct. More than anything else, his name has ensured that this is Malaysia's Trial of the Century.
For all the surrounding hoopla, the trial is simply the latest episode in what looks to be a long-running saga. The drama began on September 2, when Anwar was unceremoniously fired from his government posts. A day later, he was expelled from his party, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO). Anwar's sudden ouster was widely seen as politically motivated. He and his erstwhile mentor, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, were known to have differences over economic policy; Mahathir may also have felt threatened by his ever-popular deputy. In addition, the sacking came amid a mudslinging campaign by his political enemies, who distributed a book entitled 50 Reasons Why Anwar Can't Be Prime Minister, accusing Anwar of treason, sedition, adultery and sodomy.
Given Anwar's popularity, not only among his compatriots but among world leaders, his dismissal caused a storm of controversy. Many Malaysians flocked to support him as he maintained his innocence and called for the reform of what he claimed was a corrupt political system. His arrest on September 20 did little to calm the situation. The use of the Internal Security Act, the controversial law that allows for detention without trial, against Anwar and his associates heightened resentment in many quarters against what was seen as an increasingly authoritarian government. (Anwar has since been released from the ISA, as have most of the others.) The government's position was not helped when Anwar appeared in court on Sept. 29 with a black eye and alleged police brutality. His supporters continued to take to the streets and call for reform; the latest rally on Oct. 24 escalated into a small-scale riot.
Thus far the police had managed to keep the protesters at bay and prevent things from spinning out of control. But for the government, the real battle may just be beginning - the fight to retain its credibility and legitimacy. Its image at home and abroad has already taken a battering through its perceived heavy-handedness. Now it has to make sure the trial of Anwar is seen as fair and free from political influence. As the case unwinds under the watchful eyes of the world, it is not only Anwar but also the nation that is in the dock.
Some pro-government figures insist that the case is just a criminal trial of Anwar, no more, no less. "The real issue is that it is Anwar who is on trial," says lawyer Zahari Abdul Wahab, an UMNO member and former treasurer of the party's Youth wing. Others, however, would disagree. "There's no doubt about it: the whole nation is on trial, including the judiciary itself," says lawyer and U.N. special rapporteur Param Cumaraswamy. Abdul Kadir Jasin, group editor-in-chief of the pro-government daily New Straits Times, made the same point in a recent column: "All of us, no matter how remotely connected we are to [Anwar's] case, are on trial in one way or another."
Tough start to trial, Malaysia's Anwar says
Anwar Ibrahim making opening statements at his trial on November 2.
|''It's tough going in the first part of the trial, but what can we do?''
Anwar said during a break on the first day of his trial on corruption and
sodomy charges in the Malaysian capital's High Court.
Several hundred police with automatic rifles, shields and batons ringed the courthouse in the heart of the capital as the trial got underway, two months to the day after Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad dismissed Anwar.
About 500 people gathered around the courthouse behind police lines. Supporters of Anwar had called for a street demonstration outside the courthouse, but except for an occasional shout, the bystanders stood peacefully.
''I was pro-government before September 2,'' a 54-year-old Malay housewife said outside the court, referring to the day Anwar was sacked. ''Now I've turned around 180 degrees.''
Protestor showing support for Anwar during October demonstrations.
|Anwar repeated his not guilty plea to four of the five corruption charges
during the morning proceedings. He has denied all 10 charges of corruption
and sodomy levelled against him.
During the two-and-a-half-hour session before the luncheon break, judge Augustine Paul ruled that foreigners and the Malaysian Bar Council would not be granted observer status.
''This is a big insult to the court,'' Justice Augustine said of the requests from numerous rights groups, legal associations and foreign lawmakers for special observer status. ''It gives the impression that the court may not be dispensing justice.''
Anwar looked in good health. He had appeared in court in September with a black eye he said he had suffered during a beating in police custody.
''I'm all right,'' Anwar said before the trial began. His eye was no longer swollen and he was not wearing the neck brace he had previously worn.
Anwar Ibrahim's wife Wan Azizah Ismail arrives at the Malaysian High Court with daughters Nurul Izzah (left) and Nural Nuhar. The first day of Anwar's trial passed without incident.
|Before trial began, Anwar hugged his wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, his two eldest daughters and father and mother. He was wearing a white, open-collared shirt with long sleeves and dark trousers. He also greeted opposition leader Lim Kit Siang, and said: ''I'm expecting a good trial....'' Anwar glanced repeatedly at his family from the dock during the proceedings.|
Anwar with Dr. Mahathir during better times.
|His lawyers argued that Anwar had been improperly charged under a 1970
statute because it had been superseded by the Anti-Corruption Act of 1997.
Justice Augustine, who as presiding judge will eventually have to pronounce
the verdict, dismissed a defence motion that the Bar Council be granted observer
status. ''I do not think the bar has anything to do here,'' the judge said.
The Bar Council said it had been treated unfairly. ''If the council can be refused, who else can be allowed?'' council vice president R.R. Chelvarajah said. Three Philippine legislators failed to gain access. ''I would be happier if we were allowed in,'' Loretta Ann Rosales, who had arrived from Manila on Sunday, said outside the court.
Diplomats from several countries including Britain and the United States failed to get seats in the packed courtroom, which is Kuala Lumpur's biggest but seats only about 50 members of the public. Representatives of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch gained access to the court as members of the public.
''Amnesty International will totally monitor Anwar's trial to examine the nature and basis of evidence brought against him and to assess the proceedings in light of international standards on fair trial,'' Amnesty's Mark Dally said before entering the court.
Malaysia does not have a jury system and the allegations are heard by the single judge, Augustine. Initially, the court heard four of the five corruption charges. Each of the corruption counts carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in jail and a 20,000 ringgit (about US$5,000) fine. Each of the five sodomy charges carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail and whipping.
The trial's outcome can be appealed to the Court of Appeal.
The following is the summary of charges against ousted deputy prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, whose trial began today. Anwar has pleaded innocent to all 10 charges against him. The trial that started on November 2 is for four counts of corruption and one of illegal sex.
The five charges of corruption against Anwar are:
1. Interfering in May 1995 in an investigation into his then private secretary, who was suspected of receiving a bribe leading to illegally acquiring property.
2. Directing directed two police officers in August 1997 to obtain a written statement from a man denying sexual misconduct and sodomy with Anwar.
3. Directing the same officers to ask the man to give a written public statement denying sexual misconduct.
4. Directing officers to obtain a written statement from a woman denying sexual misconduct with Anwar.
5. Directing the officers to ask the woman to give a written public statement denying sex with him.
The five charges of sexual misconduct are:
1. Committing sodomy with a man in April 1994.
2. Committing sodomy with a second man in May 1994.
3. Committing sodomy with a third man in April 1998.
4. Committing sodomy with a fourth man in March 1993.
5. Committing sodomy with a fifth man in December 1992.
Each corruption charge carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in jail and a fine of 20,000 ringgit. Each sodomy charge is punishable with a maximum penalty of 20 years and whipping.
Aura of Machiavelli in Colonial Scene
It is a trial that many people see as the product of a political power struggle, reflecting Machiavellian machinations within the United Malays National Organisation, the dominant government party.
Just a few months ago, the defendant, Anwar Ibrahim, was on the best of terms with the Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, and poised to succeed him as the nation's leader. Now they are bitter enemies and Dr Mahathir's formidable authority touches every corner of the nation.
But at first glance, the proceedings in Court No 3 in the Sultan Abdul Samad building provide no hint of the "high-level political conspiracy" that Anwar, the former deputy prime minister, claims is behind his prosecution on charges of corrupt practices.
Forty-three years after Britain extended self-government to its former colony, Malaya, the court procedures of the Federation of Malaysia are still very British in nature. Judges and lawyers wear black robes and use the polite language of British courts.
At Anwar's trial lawyers addressed Mr. Justice Augustine Paul as "M'Lord". Judgments by courts in Britain and other territories following the British judicial tradition, including Hong Kong, were quoted. Mr. Justice Paul followed the outdated practice of taking his own notes, which is common in courts in Malaysia and Singapore, another former British colony, and slows proceedings to a crawl.
But there were marked contrasts with Britain itself. A sign on the front of the judge's bench, directly below him, read, Gunakan Bahasa Kebangasaan, which means use the national language. However, legal judgments and research material are mainly written in English and many judges and lawyers are more at home with the tongue of the former colonial rulers than Malay. Although Mr. Justice Paul had been instructed by the Chief Justice, Eusoff Chin, to conduct the trial in Malay, English was used alongside Malay.
Another contrast was the intrusion of the political element when, during a recess, family and friends of Anwar distributed white ribbons, the symbol of his reformasi, or reform movement, which is aimed at bringing about a more democratic Malaysia. Kamar Ainiah Kamaruzzaman, a woman lawyer on the Anwar team, laid a ribbon on the prosecution table to the amusement of the public and press.
At the end of the first day's proceedings, Anwar turned to journalists and responded to questions. He railed against the Attorney-General, accused Dr. Mahathir of lying and said he had wanted to introduce a special payment for poor civil servants. He was allowed to speak for some minutes before a court officer signalled for him to stop and he said jokingly that he was talking to his lawyers.
Riot police were on stand-by outside the courthouse for crowd trouble.
|About 200 supporters of Anwar Ibrahim staged an illegal rally outside
the court as he went on trial.
"We want freedom," the crowd chanted, taking up a slogan issued by Wan Azmi Abdullah, a relative of Anwar's wife, Wan Azizah Ismail, and a member of the Malaysian Muslim Youth Movement.
Police including special field forces armed with assault rifles blocked the crowd from getting too close to the court building. Oh, what a democracy!
The Second Day - Legal Wrangling
The former chief of the country's top police unit was the first witness called in the sensational corruption and sexual misconduct trial of ousted deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim on November 3. Mohammad Said Awang, former chief of the Special Branch, was the first of 52 prosecution witnesses to take the stand in the government case against the jailed dissident. Defence lawyers on the day before opened their case by asking the judge to hold Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in contempt of court for saying publicly that Anwar should be convicted.
Dr. Mahathir was also on the witness list, but it was unclear whether he would actually be called. Anwar faces five counts of corruption and five counts of illegal sex acts. He denies the charges and says they were cooked up to undermine his growing challenge to the 17-year leadership of Dr. Mahathir. Dr. Mahathir said he sacked his handpicked successor because he was morally unfit to lead the Southeast Asian nation.
Anwar arrived in court in a blue police Pajero truck, flanked by escort vehicles, for the second day to face the charges of abuse of power and illicit sex. Riot police with shields and tear-gas launchers stood guard across the street from the red-bricked High Court at Independence Square, where Anwar led a huge anti-government protest just hours before his arrest. His supporters said on that Tuesday they wanted to maintain calm during the trial to ensure Anwar gets a fair hearing.
''It's unlikely that people will do anything while the trial is on,'' said Syed Husin Ali, the leader of the opposition group, People's Party of Malaysia.
During the opening day on November 2, Anwar's attorneys argued the first four graft charges were invalid because the lower house of Parliament had repealed the special anti-corruption law under which he was charged. Justice Paul dismissed the request, saying that the law was still under review by the upper house of Parliament so it was still on the books.
On the following day, defence lawyers appealed Mr Justice Augustine Paul's ruling. The judge told them they would have to take it to the appeals court and ordered the first witness to be called. Meanwhile, dozens of observers clamoured for a second day to get into the courtroom.
''By not allowing the international community to come in and observe the trial, the prime minister is undermining the name of the country,'' United Nations Rapporteur Param Cumaraswamy said. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has been among international leaders who have expressed concern over Anwar's plight after he appeared at his arraignment with bruises and a black eye, alleging police brutality. Hundreds of foreign reporters and human rights and judiciary activists have flocked to the Malaysian capital to observe the trial.
The prosecution in the Anwar Ibrahim trial on November 3 disclosed a previously unreported police interest in alleged sexual misbehaviour by the former Malaysian deputy prime minister seven years ago.
The prosecution called its first witness, director of the Special Branch, Mohamad Said Awang, 54, formerly a senior officer in the criminal investigation department. The prosecution's evidence is expected to touch on some of the accusations made against Anwar in poison-pen letters circulated in Malaysia and on the Internet, which involved people in his close circle. Named in court as intended witnesses were Azmin Mohamed Ali, Anwar's former political aide; Mr Azmin's wife, Shamsidah Tahari and his brother, Mohamad Azmin Mohamad Ali; and another woman, Halimatul Saadiah.
The prosecution introduced a letter to the Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, from Ummi Hafilda Ali, Mr Azmin's sister, containing allegations of "sexual misconduct by the [former] deputy prime minister". Anwar is alleged to have directed Mr Said and another Special Branch officer to "obtain a written confession" from Ms Ummi Hafilda denying he engaged in sexual misconduct. Earlier in his evidence, Mr Said said he was briefed by two of his officers on a letter alleging some sexual misbehaviour by Anwar in a meeting on August 10 last year. He had also been briefed on an operation code-named Solid Grip, conducted in 1992, relating to sexual misbehaviour by Anwar.
On November 5, as the trial continued, Malaysia's senior intelligence chief, testifying in the corruption and sexual misconduct trial of ousted deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, said he might lie under oath if ordered to do so by his bosses. Lawyers for Anwar resumed their cross-examination of Mohamed Said Awang, who the day before had accused Anwar of meddling with the police investigation into his alleged sexual misdeeds.
Christopher Fernando, one of Anwar's nine defence lawyers, asked him: ''If someone higher than the deputy prime minister were to instruct you to come and lie to the court here, would you do it?''
Mr Said replied: ''Depends on the situation.''
High Court Judge Augustine Paul interjected, looking somewhat alarmed, ''So you may lie?''
''I may or I may not,'' the witness replied. Gasps erupted through the public gallery of the federal courthouse filled with journalists, international human rights activists and members of Anwar's family.
''From your answer, you are a most unscrupulous man,'' said Mr Fernando.
Anwar, 51, sacked as deputy prime minister and finance minister on September 2, faces 10 counts of abuse of power and sexual misconduct again stated he denies the charges and says they were fabricated because Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad considered his popularity a threat to his 17-year rule.
Mr Said on November 4 accused Anwar of trying to force police to cover up his alleged sexual misconduct. He testified that Anwar demanded intelligence officers to use a secret method called ''Operation Turning Over'' to intimidate two people who had accused him of sexual misbehavior. A statement by Anwar's personal driver, Azizan Abu Bakar, said Anwar sodomised him 15 times. The other, by Ummi Hasilda Ali, the sister of Anwar's private secretary, said her brother's wife had sex with Anwar. Mr Said testified the method, a ''great secret'' he declined to reveal in court, worked. The two gave him retractions that Anwar demanded be forwarded to Dr Mahathir.
On November 5, he became flustered and dodged defence questions about how the Special Branch ''neutralised'' suspects they deemed unco-operative. Mr Said said he agreed to get the retractions from Ms Ummi and Mr Azizan despite believing the sexual allegations. The 54-year-old Mr Said, on leave prior to his retirement, denied he was afraid of losing his pension.
Dr Mahathir fired Anwar on September 2, saying he was morally unfit to lead the Southeast Asian nation. Since Anwar's arrest on September 20, tens of thousands of Malaysians have participated in street protests demanding his release and Dr Mahathir's resignation. During the trial, Anwar has been spending most of his time in the dock taking notes on large sheets of paper and paying close attention to the arguments.
The Malaysian police chief acknowledged that he had described the sex allegations against Anwar Ibrahim as politically motivated. And he told the former deputy prime minister's trial that his report to the Prime Minister might also have named two cabinet ministers. After receiving the report in August last year, Dr Mahathir Mohamad said allegations of a sex scandal involving Anwar were slanderous, attributing them to a group seeking to prevent his deputy succeeding him. But two months earlier, Dr Mahathir said he believed the allegations and sacked Anwar. Less than three weeks later, Anwar was arrested and charged with five counts of corrupt practices and five counts of sodomy, which he denies.
The retiring head of the Special Branch, Mohamed Said Awang, said under cross-examination yesterday that his report might have mentioned Daim Zainuddin, Minister of Special Functions and Dr Mahathir's closest associate, and Megat Junid Ayob, the Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, as well as other senior officials.
"Did the report you gave to the Prime Minister contain a statement from you that the allegations were politically motivated?" Christopher Fernando, one of Anwar's nine defence lawyers, asked Mr Said. "I don't deny it," he replied. Mr Said said he could not recall if he also mentioned Mr Megat Junid's wife, who the court has been told was instrumental in passing on a letter containing the sex allegations to Dr Mahathir. The claims were included in a letter from Ummi Hafilda Ali, the sister of Anwar's private secretary at the time.
Mr Fernando asked Mr Said whether he wrote in his report that the people named and some other leaders had "conspired to topple [Anwar]". Mr Said said he did not think he "wrote such things". Asked whether he mentioned the fact that Mr Daim met Ms Ummi "as part of this scheme", Mr Said said: "I may have. I don't deny that."
Calling the report "very crucial", Mr Fernando asked Judge Augustine Paul to order it be handed to the defence. The judge asked the prosecution to determine whether the report could be produced in court today. If not, the defence may have to make a formal application for it.
Lawyers yesterday obtained the key police report which said sexual allegations against Anwar Ibrahim were "deliberately created". Prosecutors agreed to hand over the 1997 police document on the fifth day of the former Malaysian deputy prime minister's corruption trial. The report showed that police investigations last year found there was no proof of allegations of sexual misconduct by Anwar and pointed to a plot to smear him. The defence now seeked a second report allegedly containing "more crucial" information that reveals the names of two ministers.
The sex allegations obtained on November 6 were made in a letter from Ummi Hafilda Ali, a sister of Mohamed Azmin Ali, Anwar's former private secretary, and in a sworn statement by Azizan Abu Bakar, his former driver, and were sent to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in August last year. The report produced in court was from the head of the police Special Branch, Mohamed Said Awang, to Dr Mahathir, accompanying letters from Ms Ummi and Mr Azizan retracting the allegations.
On November 5, Mr Said agreed with a defence lawyer that if the allegations against Anwar were false and baseless, then it was legitimate for him to get them retracted. His report to Dr Mahathir said there was no proof of the allegations and there were indications of the existence of a "certain group that might have their own agenda and played a role behind the scenes" to urge Ms Ummi and Mr Azizan to "smear" Anwar. Replying to a question, Mr Said said he did not think there was another report but would not deny it. Later, he said that now the report had been produced in court, he was "quite certain" that it could be the only one sent to Dr Mahathir. After the prosecution reported that the Special Branch could not find the second report, Justice Augustine Paul asked for another search.
Continuing onwards, the testimony on November 10 continued to focus on statements by Ummi Hafilda, who said Anwar had sex with the wife of his own personal secretary. Ms Ummi is the sister of the secretary. Prosecutors were trying to prove that Anwar Ibrahim misused his powers as Malaysia's deputy prime minister to cover up his sexual misdeeds and called in a second police officer on November 10 to testify. Abdul Aziz Hussein of the Special Branch gavedetails of the interrogation of two key people: the sister of Anwar's former secretary, and his former driver, both allegedly having made sexual misconduct allegations against Anwar.
High Court Judge Augustine Paul , however, then refused to allow a defense lawyer to argue on November 11 that Malaysia's ousted deputy prime minister is the victim of a political conspiracy.
The judge in Anwar Ibrahim's trial told the prosecution on the following day not to dwell on the details of the sacked finance minister's alleged sex crimes. High Court Judge Augustine Paul made the ruling after prosecution lawyer Azhar Mohamed asked a witness to read a 1997 letter accusing Anwar of adultery and sodomy. Anwar has continued to say he was the victim of a string of poison pen letters written by people who plotted to end his political career and prevent him from exposing official corruption and cronyism.
The judge was prompted to intervene on the ninth day of the trial after defence lawyer Christopher Fernando objected when the witness, senior police officer Mazlan Mohamad Din, began reading from one of two letters provided by the prosecution. Prosecution lawyer Mr Azhar had asked the witness to compare the similarities between the two letters, one written by the sister of Anwar's former private secretary and the other by an unidentified person. Mr Mazlan read a section describing the subject of one of the allegations in detail and naming the person.
After Mr Fernando objected, the judge said: ''What is the relevance of this? It's good enough to just say what the similarities are without going into further detail. I will allow it without going into further details.''
The judge barred the press from publishing the details that were read by the witness. ''I order that the first similarity should not be published in the papers. Please take note, otherwise it would become contempt,'' he said.
Malaysia's normally restrained press has described Anwar's alleged homosexuality and extramarital affairs in detail since Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad sacked his former deputy on September 2. Dr. Mahathir has called his former protege morally unfit. Anwar has accused the press, closely linked to the governing majority, of backing the campaign to ruin his political career. Two men including Anwar's adopted brother recently pleaded guilty to being sodomised by Anwar, and papers carried passages of the charge sheets detailing sodomy, which is a crime in Malaysia. New lawyers for the two men have since lodged appeals on their behalf and said their clients want to retract their pleas.
In a book entitled Fifty Reasons Why Anwar Cannot Become Prime Minister which was published earlier this year, Anwar was accused of fathering an illegitimate child with the wife of his former private secretary. But blood tests later proved that her husband was the father. A judge recently banned distribution of the book pending a defamation suit brought by Anwar against the author.
The author of one of the letters, Ummi Hafilda Ali, eventually withdrew the allegations and said she had met senior government officials before lodging her accusations. The prosecution has argued that Anwar forced police to intimidate Ummi and the deputy prime minister's former driver, Azizan Abu Bakar, to obtain retractions from them. Ummi and Azizan were arrested on August 18, 1997, at the home of a dentist. Mazlan told the court that when police entered the dentist's home, Ummi and AAzizan had locked themselves in the upstairs master bedroom. He said it took nearly five hours before the two agreed to come out, and when they did they had to clamber out of a window onto a balcony and climb down to the ground.
Anwar Lawyer Burgled
A safe belonging to one of the lawyers of sacked Malaysian deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim was broken into on November 19, the lawyer said.
"The safe was broken into and documents were thrown on to the floor," Pawancheek Marican said. He did not know whether any documents were missing. The safe contained documents about Anwar's case as well as other cases he was handling, he said.
Trial Resumes After APEC
The trial resumed on November 23 after a week-long recess so it would not interfere with last week's Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit of 21 Pacific Rim leaders. Anwar's trial was adjourned during the November 16-20 week for the APEC summit in Kuala Lumpur so that the case would not draw the attention of APEC delegates and embarrass Malaysia by showing how undemocratic it is. Unfortunately for Dr. Mahathir, U.S. Vice President Al Gore did bring up the subjuct of Anwar's imprisonment and stated that justice was not being served and that basically the actions taken by the Malaysian government were undemocratic. This caused a furore among the Asian delegates who form a part of the political and economic elite in Asian countries who would rather see a heavy-handed approach to keeping their peoples where they believe they should stay in terms of social, political and economic status.
Lawyers defending Anwar Ibrahim on Tuesday alleged that while people who accused him of sexual misdeeds were treated softly, policemen were harsh with the former deputy prime minister. Police broke the door of the former deputy prime minister's home to arrest him on September 20, but negotiated for more than four hours before arresting two people who had made allegations of sexual misconduct against him, a lawyer told the trial court. The two who had made allegations were arrested and forced to retract their statements by police allegedly acting on Anwar's orders last year.
The arrests of Ummi Hafilda and Azizan Abu Bakar were delayed because the police had to negotiate with the landlady, Restina Majid, for four hours, police officer Mazlan Mansor testified on November 24. Mr Mazlan, a prosecution witness, was among a team of police officials sent to arrest the two on August 18, 1997.
''I am putting it to you that Restina, Ummi and Azizan were given special treatment and the police dared not move in because there were people behind these people who have clout,'' said Christopher Fernando, a defence lawyer.
The witness said: ''I don't agree.'' Ms. Restina is the sister-in-law of Aziz Shamshuddin, press secretary of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
In the afternoon of November 24, a police intelligence officer testified that he was present at a meeting where Anwar ordered police to seek out Ummi and Azizan and find out why they had made the allegations. Amin Yunus, a former deputy director of the Special Branch said Anwar wanted the police to intimidate the two.
''The accused ordered us to track down Ummi and Azizan and dig up all the information from them as to why they came up with the allegations,'' Mr Amin said. He did not say whether Anwar had ordered the arrest of the two.
Anwar was arrested by armed policemen wearing ski masks who smashed through the door to his living room hours after he had addressed a mammoth rally in Kuala Lumpur demanding Mr Mahathir's resignation.
Up to this point in the trial, all 10 police officers had testified in support of the prosecution version that Anwar had forced the police to obtain retractions from Ummi, the sister of his former secretary, and Azizan, his former chauffeur.
Anwar wanted his accusers frightened, said police witness
Sacked Malaysian finance minister Anwar Ibrahim ordered police to frighten two people who had accused him of sex crimes so they would retract their allegations, a police officer said on November 24. Amir Junos, the outgoing deputy director of the police intelligence unit, told the Kuala Lumpur High Court that Anwar had directed police in August 1997 to obtain the retractions, which would then be handed to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
''The directive to withdraw all these allegations came from the accused himself,'' Mr Amir said under questioning by the prosecution.
''The accused gave directives that Ummi and Azizan not be held for long, that they had to be interrogated and whatever details of their allegations had to be obtained and that this case not to be brought to court,'' Mr Amir said.
''He [Anwar] also wanted the matter not to be publicised,'' the police officer said, adding that the retractions were to be obtained in writing within 24 hours of the arrests and then handed over to Mr Mahathir.
Mr Amir said both Mr Azizan and Ms Ummi were reluctant to retract their allegations, and that Anwar's former driver spoke ''consistently with clarity'' about being sodomised.
''Moreover, for a victim like Azizan who had been sodomised, it was extremely difficult for him to come forward and say what has been done to him,'' MR Amir said. Mr Amir, reiterating what another police officer had previously told the court, said Mr Azizan had sworn on a book of holy Islamic verses that ''if he was lying, he will be damned by Allah''.
Fired Malaysian Official's Aide Says He Was Forced to Lie
However, a speech writer for former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim says he lied about having sex with his boss after police beat him, humiliated him and threatened to harm his family.
According to a 55-page affidavit obtained by The Associated Press, Munawar Ahmad Anees, 50, said that while in custody he was deprived of food and medicine and led to believe that his wife and two children would be harmed if he didn't admit to having sex with Anwar. In the document filed November 7 in Sessions Court, Munawar recounted how police forced him to simulate homosexual acts with Anwar.
"They were bullies and I was in their hands. As I acted out the demeaning, humiliating parts they gave me, they laughed," Munawar wrote, describing repeated police interrogations after his arrest on September 14. Munawar, along with Anwar's adopted brother Sukma Dermawan, 37, were sentenced to six months in jail after pleading guilty September 19 to allowing themselves to be sodomized by Anwar. It would appear they were jailed for offenses they did not only commit, but were forced to admit they had committed, all for the purpose of jailing Anwar Ibrahim.
A day later, police arrested Anwar and of five counts of corruption and five counts of sexual misconduct he is facing in court, two allegedly involve Sukma and Munawar. Anwar keeps saying he is innocent, and his lawyers have argued he is the victim of a political conspiracy and trumped-up charges. Munawar has since retracted his guilty plea and is appealing his conviction. His appeal is scheduled to be heard December 8.
"The doctor says he suffered psychological trauma and shock after what the police did to him," Munawar's wife, Fatima Belhadi, 40, told The Associated Press.
Munawar is being treated at the National Heart Institute after suffering a heart attack while in custody, his wife said. "Sometimes he falls into deep depression. He still can't sleep at night," she said.
In the court documents, Munawar accused police of invading his house September 14 without a search warrant, then arresting him without informing him of his offense. He said police handcuffed him, ransacked his house and confiscated computer disks, tax returns and family photographs. An officer later told him he had been arrested under the Internal Security Act, which allows indefinite detention without trial.
"He just told me that I was a threat to Malaysia," Munawar said in the affidavit. "I could not understand this at all as I have never in all my years in Malaysia involved myself in anything that could be described as a threat to the country."
After he was brought to the federal police headquarters, Munawar said the police forced him to strip naked and they shaved him bald. His guards told him that from now on, his name would be "Number 26."
"One of the two swung me around and punched me in the stomach,"' Munawar said in the affidavit.
A Pakistani by birth, Munawar also has an American work permit, known as a green card, and is a permanent resident of Malaysia. According to his wife, he lectured in Islamic sciences at the University of Chicago for four years during the 1980s. Munawar said police threatened to work with "U.S. agents" to revoke his green card and ruin his plans to apply for U.S. citizenship. If he confessed, the police promised him freedom, Malaysian citizenship, a pick of jobs and safety for his family.
"They told me that I had to understand their difficulties because Anwar's people were now my enemies and that they would try to burn my house down and to hurt me and my family," he said.
Shock as Judge Jails Anwar Lawyer
The judge in the trial of sacked Malaysian deputy premier and finance minister Anwar Ibrahim on November 30 ordered a defence lawyer jailed for three months for contempt of court. In a dramatic twist to the corruption and sex trial, High Court Judge Augustine Paul ordered defence counsel Zainur Zakaria to surrender by 0800 GMT on Monday, November 30. Anwar, prevented by police from talking to his lawyers in the courtroom, angrily shouted to reporters that he could no longer get a fair trial.
''I can't even discuss this with my lawyers now,'' Anwar said. ''Where is justice?''
Judge Paul also issued a warrant for the arrest of lawyer Manjeet Singh Dhillon, representing a businessman friend of Anwar's being tried in a separate case over ammunition. Both Zainur and Manjeet are former heads of the Malaysian Bar Council. The judge's shock moves pushed aside examination of the corruption and sodomy charges that Anwar faces in a trial at the centre of simmering civil unrest.
The uproar was sparked by an affidavit filed by Anwar in the High Court on November 28. In it, he accused two prosecutors of trying to cajole a potential witness into fabricating evidence of sex crimes by Anwar. Anwar asked the court to remove senior government prosecutors Abdul Gani Patail and Azahar Mohamed from the corruption and sexual misconduct trial. In the affidavit, Anwar said the two prosecutors had tried to negotiate a plea bargain with his former tennis partner, Nallakaruppan Solaimalai.
Nalla, as he is known, was indicted shortly before Anwar's arrest and charged with unlawful possession of 125 rounds of live ammunition. He faces a mandatory death sentence if convicted. The bullets were said to have been found in Nalla's house during a police investigation of allegations published in the book, Fifty Reasons Why Anwar Ibrahim Cannot Become Prime Minister. In the book, it is alleged that Nalla set up sexual trysts for Anwar while he was still in power.
Anwar said Mr Abdul Gani and Mr Azahar indicated that they would try Nalla under a lesser charge if he were prepared to lie about how Anwar committed sexual offences with ''various married and unmarried women''. Mr. Justice Paul on November refused to listen to defence arguments on the affidavit, saying there was nothing to support the allegations. Instead, he ordered Zainur, who submitted the affidavit, to apologise to Attorney-General Mohtar Abdullah. The attorney-general, who does not normally attend the trial, was in court on November 30, and asked to speak.
''What has been done by Zainur Zakaria undermines the integrity of the trial,'' Mr. Mohtar told the court, recommending an immediate contempt hearing. But Zainur refused to apologise and Mr Justice Paul ordered him jailed.
''I have to act to ensure the integrity of this trial is not affected in any way. I shall, therefore, impose three months' imprisonment,'' the judge said. ''The objective of this affidavit is to project an impression that the entire prosecution is based on fabricated evidence. This is a serious contempt, and I have to act.
''In light of the baseless application filed by you, I propose to hold you for contempt for having attempted to undermine the proceedings of this trial.''
Mr. Justice Paul also accepted a request by Mr. Mohtar that an arrest warrant be issued against Manjeet, also for contempt. The judge then adjourned the trial for the day. Anwar's lead counsel, Raja Aziz Addruse, later denied the judge's jail order was a setback. Zainur would not be replaced on the nine-member defence team, he said.