Thursday, June 15, 2006

There Is Hope Yet

In the late 90s, the entire nation was divided when Anwar was dragged to the courts. I still have good friends who believe in one side of the story. Anwar, who was convicted of sodomy with his adopted brother, has since been released. Now the adopted brother Sukma, has a retrial. The opinion of the judges were revealing to say the least: (as reported in The Star)

Sukma was convicted and sentenced to six months' jail by a Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court on Sept 19, 1998, after he pleaded guilty to allowing Anwar to sodomise him. He had pleaded guilty to committing an act of gross indecency under Section 377(d) at the official residence of the former deputy prime minister in the capital in April that year. He was then released on bail pending his appeal of the conviction and sentence on Dec 15 the same year, 17 days short of him fully serving the sentence. Sukma's lawyer Gobind Singh Deo, who submitted yesterday on the voluntariness of his client's plea of guilt, noted that Sukma had said he was under pressure when he pleaded guilty to the charge.
“We are asking the court to set aside the conviction. We are not asking for an acquittal. We are asking for a retrial. Let him have his day in court. If the court then finds him guilty, so be it,” said Gobind Singh.
Justice Sri Ram interjected, saying that even if Sukma sought an acquittal, the court would not allow it. Gobind Singh also said there was a Federal Court decision which rejected Sukma's confession as involuntary. (On Sept 2, 2004, the Federal Court acquitted Sukma and Anwar of a charge of sodomising the former's family driver Azizan Abu Bakar. It also ruled that Sukma's confession was not admissible as “it appeared not to have been made voluntarily”.)
Justice Sri Ram said: “How can we ignore the Federal Court's decision in ruling on the inadmissibility of Sukma's confession? Doesn't this render his guilty plea unsafe? “After careful consideration, we unanimously feel that the appeal should be allowed. In our view, the conviction based on the plea of guilt is manifestly unsafe.”
Earlier, Gobind Singh submitted that there was suppression of evidence by the prosecution. He said Sukma had been charged with sodomy although there was evidence to prove otherwise. “There was a medical report which stated that Sukma was not sodomised, and yet the prosecution dragged him to court for sodomy. The report stated that there was no evidence of penetration,” he said.
Justice Sri Ram interjected: “Since the prosecution knew that the medical report revealed that there was no new or old tear, it had a duty to bring it up to the court. “And since the Federal Court had ruled Sukma's confession inadmissible, we have to follow the presided case. It will be a terrible case of injustice if we were to shut our eyes to the Federal Court's decision.”
Deputy Public Prosecutor Nurulhuda Noraini Mohd Nor submitted that the prosecution need not prove penetration as Sukma was charged for outrage of indecency, and therefore the medical report was irrelevant. However, Justice Sri Ram said that the charge under Section 377(d) of the Penal Code clearly stated that the element of penetration needed to be proven, and asked DPP Nurulhuda to read out the charge. He then said: “There you have it. Semua sudah habis! (All is gone). If penetration cannot be proven, then the whole case collapses like a pile of bricks.
“We are talking about the liberty of the individual. How can we close our eyes and fold our arms and let injustice walk by?” DPP Nurulhuda continued her submission, but was stopped by Justice Sri Ram, who said: “The case is based on the same facts (as in Anwar's and Sukma's sodomy case at the Federal Court). There is nothing you can do. You are not the author (of the judgment), so in that way the cookie crumbles.”

The implications are pretty obvious if Anwar and Sukma were to be found to be guiltless. Yes, I agreed that Anwar's currency non-intervention during the 97 financial crisis could be handled better, however... what happened to him and his family after that isn't right no matter how you cut it. While I try my best to stay out of political commentary, this is one ugly episode which I believe strongly that we needed to rectify so as to show that hope prevails for those seeking truth and justice.

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