Malaysian Prosecutor: DNA was Anwar's
|Our Correspondent||Apr 26, 2011|
Prosecutors charged in a Kuala Lumpur High Court on Monday that DNA samples taken from the anus of Mohamad Saiful Bukhari Azlan belong to Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.
Lead prosecutor Mohamad Yusof Zainal Abidin told the court that samples taken from three items in a cell where Anwar was jailed overnight in July 2008 matched the "Male Y" DNA profile that government chemists had found on swabs in examining Saiful.
"It confirms the unknown contributor Male Y is Datuk Seri Anwar," Yusof said. "This shows there is a prima facie case" that would require Anwar to put on a defense against charges brought against him in the long-running case, which has been dubbed Sodomy II. Anwar was convicted of sodomy and corruption in a 1998 trial and spent six years in prison on charges that were regarded as specious and rigged to remove him from politics.
Anwar refused to provide DNA samples in the current case, charging that samples were manipulated in the 1998 case. Under Malaysian law when Anwar was arrested in 2008, suspects had the right to refuse to give samples. However, the government pushed a law through parliament following his arrest to compel suspects to provide samples whether they wanted to or not.
Accordingly, officials used DNA samples taken from a towel, toothbrush and mineral water bottle used by the opposition leader in the jail cell in 2008.
In early March, High Court Judge Zabidin Mohamed 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.
That would have effectively ended the state's case against the opposition leader, who heads Parti Keadilan Rakyat and leads the three-party opposition coalition, because the DNA sample was basically the only physical link between Anwar and Saiful.
However, Zabidin reversed himself a week later after Prosecutor Yusof asked in court that he review his decision.
That was just one of a long series of irregularities surrounding the trial that make it give off the aroma of a political prosecution. Saiful, for instance, has acknowledged in court that he met with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his wife, Rosmah, on June 24, 2008, at Najib's home two days before the alleged sodomy. He also acknowledged that he had met with Rosmah's close confidant, the former track star Mumtaz Jaafar, as well.
Saiful also acknowledged meeting secretly with Rodwan Mohd Yusof, a senior assistant police commissioner, twice before the alleged offence took place. Rodwan became famous in Anwar's 1998 trial when he illegally removed Anwar's DNA samples from forensic custody and planted them on a mattress allegedly used by Anwar for a homosexual dalliance. To protect the integrity of the prosecution's case, the presiding judge, Augustine Paul, expunged the entire DNA evidence at the time.
There was also considerable confusion over the DNA samples taken from Saiful's body. Saiful, a former aide to Anwar, acknowledged in court that at least 56 hours had elapsed between the time he was allegedly sodomized and when he provided the samples, both from his rear and from his mouth. He said he had neither gone to the bathroom nor drunk water in the intervening period.
Defense attorneys forced a government chemist, Dr Seah Lay Hong to testify earlier that at least two unknown male DNA profile samples had been taken from around Saiful's anus, and that various combinations raised the possibility that as Saiful could have had sex with as many as 10 different people. However, she was firm in insisting that one of the samples had come from "Male Y" – identified as Anwar,.
The prosecution finishes its submission today after the defence finished yesterday. Once the prosecution rests, the judge will decide whether Anwar has a case to answer or not.* If he is convicted, it effectively would end his political career, which restarted dramatically after he was freed in 2004. Under Malaysian law, Anwar can be sentenced to as much as 20 years in prison and be flogged as well.
Banned from politics because of the corruption conviction until 2008, Anwar almost immediately won back the parliamentary seat that had been held in the interim by his wife and went on to lead the Pakatan Rakyat to the biggest opposition victory since Malaysia became an independent nation, winning five states and 82 parliamentary seats in national elections.
The victory effectively ended the career of Prime Minister Ahmad Abdullah Badawi. However, with Anwar dogged by the new sodomy charges and under heavy political pressure from the Barisan Nasional, or ruling national coalition, the coalition has been flagging in recent months.
Then, in mid-March, a mysterious video surfaced purportedly of Anwar having sex with a Chinese prostitute in a Kuala Lumpur hotel room. Anwar has loudly denied he is the man in the video. So far, it doesn't appear to have done serious damage to an already damaged political career.
Corrected on 26 April 2011-- Eds.