KUALA LUMPUR: Those intent on continuing to politicise the Federal Court’s unanimous decision convicting Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim of sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan will not have a leg to stand on if Anwar had been called to the stand.
The grilling by the prosecution team, Tan Sri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said, would have been incessant. The torrent of questions would have come in rapid-fire, staccato bursts, withering and unrelenting. Anwar, Shafee said, would have been cut to pieces.
The scale would have also tipped in the prosecution’s favour from the start, had Anwar’s alibi witnesses taken the stand, he said.
Shafee began leading the prosecution team only when the case was brought to the Court of Appeal in 2012. He said if Anwar had, at the High Court in 2010, agreed to subject himself to questioning by the deputy public prosecutor, it would have been like bringing the proverbial knife to a gunfight.
“If the prosecution had been cross-examined, I think he would have fainted in the witness box because he would not be able to explain a lot of things, like why he put in his defence of alibi and then backed off.
“He made silly remarks from the dock, saying this was because his alibi witnesses would be interviewed by the police. Look, that’s the whole idea of a notice, isn’t it? You give a notice of alibi so that the police can interview the alibi witnesses as provided for by the law (under the Evidence Act 1950).
“I can easily tell you hundreds of facts that would have been zoomed in on if he was cross-examined. He knew that, so that is why I believe he took the cowardly step of giving a statement from the dock,” he told the New Straits Times in an interview, a day after he secured the conviction against Anwar under Section 377B of the Penal Code.
Anwar is now serving a five-year jail term at the Sungai Buloh Prison.
Shafee, who during the trial at the High Court was just an observer, said it was clear to him that Anwar retracted his list of alibi witnesses as he knew it could go pear-shaped in a hurry under his cross-examination.
“His main defence was his alibis. Yet none of his 13 alibi witnesses, including his own wife, was produced.
“We even got the closed-circuit television camera calibrated to the very second, showing the exact time Anwar and Saiful arrived and left the apartment on separate occasions. It was clear that Anwar’s alibi had been cooked up.
“He said he was never in apartment No. 1 but was in apartment No. 2. Yet they were just next door to each other and were owned by the same person, who was his friend,” he said.
Among the names in Anwar’s list of alibis that the prosecution were looking forward most to grilling, he said, would have been the owner of the apartment, whom Shafee was confident would have been able to contribute significantly to the facts of the case, and the maids who were apparently present in apartment No. 2.
“And, of course, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who was on the top of the list of alibi witnesses. We wanted to know why she was significant to the alibi when she was never even there.
“At the end of the day, to me, Anwar hid behind a skirt. He didn’t dare come into the witness box to be cross-examined and he never provided any defence at all.
“Instead, he hatched this idea of a conspiracy when he knew we had all the hard, incontrovertible evidence which was clinically true. Crying political conspiracy is a convenient way of hoodwinking the public, so that they get all excited and readily subscribe to the ‘Anwar is a victim of political conspiracy’ theory, so he can blame everyone else,” Shafee said.
But the lynchpin, the cornerstone of Shafee’s methodical, surgical, legal hammerblow that blew Anwar’s arguments clean out of the water was the strength of the DNA evidence the prosecution team had at its disposal.
This, coupled with the credibility of the two chemists produced as prosecution witnesses.
Shafee said with the stellar track record from scores of criminal cases, nobody had been able to poke holes in the result of the evidence examined by the Chemistry Department.
He asked those who bought into the conspiracy theory to look at the case purely on facts.
“Anybody with half a brain, when he finally reads the full judgment, would know that the Federal Court came with a judgment based entirely on facts, not fanciful ideas like the ones the opposition and the Bar Council are entertaining.
“I will politely tell them to go and read the judgment. I have read the compressed summary of the judgment and can gauge what is coming, and I’m sure the full version of the judgment will be very thorough.”
Shafee said he had guessed as much, that if the verdict were to go his way, he would be accused of having fixed the judges.
“My answer to them is: ‘that’s utter rubbish, go and read the judgment’.
“Have a debate with me. I am game for a public debate with the Malaysian Bar Council or whoever.
“I will tell the public why Anwar is guilty and why the Federal Court was right.”
Shafee said he wanted to make it clear that Section 377B of the Penal Code (offence does not require lack of consent of the complainant) was preferred instead of 377C (lack of consent must be proven), which comes with harsher penalties, was not a misstep on the part of the attorney-general.
“If the A-G had gone for 377C, Anwar would still have been convicted and the sentence may have been more than five years because five years is the minimum.
“Maybe the A-G was being sympathetic and exercising his discretion as a public prosecutor, because under 377C, you will not escape caning even if you are above 50 years old.”
To those arguing why action was not taken against Saiful, Shafee said if they had the two previous two judgments, they would find the answers staring at them right in the face.
“Saiful resisted, he was not willing, he did not go willingly to be sodomised by his dominant employer.”
Shafee said he fought to the best of his ability to convict Anwar with a clear conscience and that he was 100 per cent sure of the latter’s guilt.
“If you ask me if I am satisfied that Anwar was found is guilty, I say yes. But I had argued with the court that as he was a repeat offender, he should serve a longer prison time.
“If I had the chance, I would have told Anwar in court that day ‘to stop this habit and repent’ and use his prison time to do that.” By Additional reporting by Khairah N. Karim