The unfortunate prosecution of Anwar Ibrahim
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The unfortunate prosecution of Anwar Ibrahim

The Malaysian government should be the big loser in a trial that is a travesty, reports Asia Sentinel

Even to a Malaysia grown inured to the scandalous ins and outs of deviant sexual congress, Mohamad Saiful Bukhairy Azlan may have given new meaning to the phrase “go f**k yourself.”

Saiful, a 25-year-old former aide to opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, is the chief prosecution witness in Anwar’s marathon sodomy trial. Dr Seah Lay Hong, a chemist and prosecution witness, was forced by defense lawyers to acknowledge on the stand in late February that DNA found in Saiful’s rear end could have come from as many as 10 different people – including himself.

Saiful has done a pretty good job on his government, his country and Anwar. That is because the case is becoming a major embarrassment, calling up memories of Anwar’s 1998 sodomy trial, which was universally branded a travesty by international human rights organizations. Mistakes made over supposedly conclusive DNA evidence in the long-running trial call into question whether the evidence could survive in a rational court of law. Other testimony indicates that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his wife, Rosmah Mansour, among others, may have played a personal role in bringing the case to court.

Last Tuesday, High Court Judge Zabidin Mohamid Diah handed Anwar a major victory by throwing out purported DNA evidence supposedly proving he had sex with the 25-year-old Saiful. He ruled the evidence was inadmissible because it had been taken without Anwar’s permission from items in his jail cell when he was first arrested on Saiful’s complaint in July 2008.

Despite the plethora of mistakes, however, the government faces a dilemma. If it folds the prosecution, it hands Anwar a huge victory and gives considerable ammunition to opposition charges that the government and particularly Najib cooked the evidence to attempt to drive Anwar from politics. Accordingly, rather than giving up now that the last physical link between Anwar and Saiful seemingly has been discredited, the prosecution is refusing to fold.

On Friday, prosecutors moved in court to attempt to force Anwar to provide an additional DNA sample to replace the one that Zabidin threw out. Government prosecutor Yusof Zainal Abiden asked Zabidin to review his decision and to compel Anwar to hand over a sample.