KUALA LUMPUR: Tue Feb. 9, 2010. The High Court adjourned Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy trial to Wednesday to hear submissions on Anwar’s application to disqualify the trial judge on grounds of bias.
The case was adjourned less than 10 minutes after it was called to allow Anwar’s lead counsel, Karpal Singh, time to file an affidavit-in-reply to an affidavit filed by the prosecution on Monday on the matter.
“There were certain denials by my learned friend (Solicitor-General II Datuk Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden) on the accuracy of facts.
“They are not accepting the position we are putting forth, and we have to reply to it,” Karpal told the court Tuesday.
He added that the affidavit would be filed this afternoon after getting the transcripts on the court proceedings.
On Monday, Anwar applied to have the trial judge Justice Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah disqualified from hearing the trial on grounds that his two rulings concerning Malay daily Utusan Malaysia’s news reports on the case raised an element of bias.
In their affidavit-in-reply, the prosecution, led by Mohd Yusof, said that before the Utusan Malaysia reporter could be cited for contempt, the court had to first decide on whether the newspaper reports were written maliciously, and whether it had interfered with the administration of justice and undermined a fair trial.
The matter was to have been heard Tuesday.
On a related matter, Mohd Yusof also voiced his concern that no affidavit should be made available to the press if it had not been presented in court as it could contain “scandalous matters which parties can apply to strike out”.
Karpal, however, cited a Federal Court ruling that any affidavit that had been filed in court was considered a public document, and therefore, could be published by the press.
Justice Mohd Zabidin then said that dissatisfied parties could always take legal action against the press, and also cautioned the press against inaccurate reporting, saying that while he had no intention to encroach on press freedom, members of the media would have to face the music if they reported inaccurately.
“I believe in freedom of the press, but it does not include inaccurate reporting,” he said.
Anwar, 63, has claimed trial to sodomising his former personal aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, 24, at the Desa Damansara Condominium in Bukit Damansara on June 26, 2008.
He is charged under Section 377B of the Penal Code and could be sentenced up to 20 years and whipping upon conviction.