Jul 6, 2007

Anwar Files Appeal Against High Court Decision

Yesterday, Judicial Commissioner Datuk Tengku Maimon Tuan Mat ruled that the suit was "obviously unsustainable" and "clearly an abuse of the court process", and allowed Dr Mahathir's application with costs.

KUALA LUMPUR, July 5 (Bernama) -- Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim whose defamation suit against Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was struck off by the High Court yesterday, filed a notice of appeal today.

Lawyer S. N. Nair, who represented the former deputy prime minister, said the notice of appeal was filed at the High Court Registry here at about 11.30am.

Anwar filed the suit on Jan 26, 2006 over Dr Mahathir's remarks at a Malaysian Human Rights Commission conference on Sept 9, 2005 where the former prime minister allegedly accused him of being a homosexual.

In defence, Dr Mahathir relied on qualified privilege and justification. On Jan 5 this year, he sought to strike out the suit, saying that it was scandalous, frivolous or vexatious.

Yesterday, Judicial Commissioner Datuk Tengku Maimon Tuan Mat ruled that the suit was "obviously unsustainable" and "clearly an abuse of the court process", and allowed Dr Mahathir's application with costs.

She based her decision, among others, on Anwar's defamation action in 1999 against Dr Mahathir over words identical to those complained of in the latest suit.

In that action, Dr Mahathir also pleaded justification and qualified privilege, and successfully had it struck out by the High Court. Anwar's appeal to the Court of Appeal was dismissed and leave to appeal to the Federal Court was refused.

In striking out the latest suit, Tengku Maimon said the defences of justification and qualified privilege were similarly available to Dr Mahathir.

She also said that there was a judicial finding that Anwar had indeed taken part in homosexual acts. The finding was made by the High Court whereby Anwar was convicted on the charge of sodomosing his former family driver, Azizan Abu Bakar. The conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeal but a further appeal was allowed by the Federal Court in a majority decision.

Tengku Maimon also based her ruling on the issue of estoppel -- an issue that has already been determined earlier cannot be tried again.

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