KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 ― With just over a week left before Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim heads back to court for his Sodomy II appeal, PKR’s R. Sivarasa repeated his party’s demand that the Attorney-General drop the sedition charges against N. Surendran, a key lawyer in the appeal.
In a statement here, the Subang MP, who is also part of Anwar’s legal team, cited his party’s concern that the sedition matter could somehow taint Anwar’s sodomy case, particularly as the former case was built around Surendran’s comments on the latter.
“We demand that the government and AG do the right thing by allowing Anwar to have a fair hearing in his appeal.
“The pending sedition charges against lawyer Surendran must be withdrawn, and there must be no further interference or intimidation against Anwar’s defence counsels,” he said.
The same demand was made by Anwar’s legal team earlier this month.
According to the Opposition Leader’s lawyers, the charges against Surendran were tantamount to “interference or intimidation” of a counsel under Malaysia’s justice system.
“We believe it is unprecedented for legal counsel to be charged for sedition merely for repeating his client’s legal defence,” Anwar’s team, comprising Gobind Singh Deo, Sangeet Kaur Deo, Sivarasa, Eric Paulsen and Latheefa Koya said in a joint statement on October 7.
They argued that the two sedition charges against Surendran were also a form of pressure on the entire legal defence team, saying such a move “would amount to a serious denial of Anwar Ibrahim’s right to a fair trial”.
They pointed out that the subject matter that formed the crux of Surendran’s sedition charges included issued that formed part of their legal team’s arguments which they planned to raise at the Federal Court during Anwar’s appeal hearing, scheduled for October 28 and 29.
On August 19, Surendran was charged under Section 4 (1)(C) of the Sedition Act for criticising the Court of Appeal’s ruling that overturned a lower court’s decision to discharge Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim from his second sodomy charge.
Surendran was first charged with sedition on August 19, over a news release titled “Court of Appeal’s Fitnah 2 Written Judgement is Flawed, Defensive & Insupportable” that was issued to news portal Malaysiakini on April 18 this year.
His second sedition charge came 10 days later on August 29, ths time over an August 8 YouTube comment, where he allegedly accused Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak of being “personally responsible” for a purported attempt to jail Anwar.
Surendran had also questioned the alleged haste in the Federal Court’s scheduled hearing of Anwar’s second sodomy court case.
The Federal Court is scheduled to hear on October 28 and 29 Anwar’s appeal against the Court of Appeal’s March 7 decision to overturn his Sodomy II acquittal by the High Court in 2012.
The appellate court found Anwar guilty of sodomising his former aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan 26, at a unit of the Desa Damansara condominium in Bukit Damansara between 3.10pm and 4.30pm on June 26, 2008.
The Permatang Pauh MP was sentenced to five years’ jail but was granted a stay of execution pending an appeal to the Federal Court.
Anwar, a former deputy prime minister-turned-opposition leader, was charged with sodomy for the second time in his life in 2003, but acquitted by the High Court in 2012.