Feb 15, 2007

Court fixes April for strike out bid for defamation suit

(MalaysiaKini) The Kuala Lumpur High Court today fixed April 26 to hear ex-premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s application to strike out a defamation suit by his former deputy Anwar Ibrahim.

“By mutual consent, it has been agreed that the application will be heard before Judicial Commissioner Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat on April 26,” Anwar’s counsel Sankara Nair said.

He was met by reporters after a brief meeting in chambers involving lawyers from both parties before Deputy Registrar Azmi Kari at the high court this morning.

Apart from Nair, Raja Aziz Addruse, Param Cumaraswamy and Anuar Shaddat are also representing the ex-deputy premier. Mahathir is represented by VK Lingam.

In an bid to avoid a courtroom showdown, Mahathir had on Jan 5 sought to strike out the defamation suit, which had resulted from his remark during a human rights conference in September 2005.

At the time, Mahathir had said: “I cannot have a person who is like that in my cabinet who may succeed and become the prime minister. Imagine having a gay prime minister. Nobody would be safe.”

Seeking vindication

In his application, Mahathir had argued that Anwar’s suit was “frivolous” and explained that he (Mahathir) had been accounting for his actions as to why he had sacked the latter.

In a 48-page affidavit, Mahathir also accused Anwar of aspiring to be the premier and using the suit to “rehabilitate himself for high office or to undermine and attack the various court findings against him”.

Anwar had criticised Mahathir for not having the ‘moral ground’ for the move.

Anwar had earlier vowed to reveal that the fallout between the duo had begun as early as 1995 - three years before he was sacked - over several decisions which upset Mahathir.

Anwar had previously expressed shock over Mahathir’s remark, particularly as it came after a court in 2005 awarded Anwar millions of ringgit in damages over a book that carried the sodomy allegations.

Although Anwar demanded a public apology and RM100 million from Mahathir, his lawyers had said he was looking for vindication, rather than compensation.

After his removal from the government and Umno in 1998, Anwar was tried and convicted of sodomy and corruption. He spent six years in jail, until the sodomy conviction was overturned in 2004.

He has always maintained that the charges were fabricated but this has been denied by Mahathir.

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