(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): Justice Augustine Paul should be commended for his decision yesterday not to schedule any trial of the former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on Friday afternoon. Paul said a Friday afternoon sitting would not be appropriate as Anwar would not be able to go for Friday prayers since he could not perform the prayers other than in prison.
He said: "The court would not interfere with the religious rights of the accused,"
I would call on Paul to reconsider his rejection of bail for Anwar and if necessary, confine the former Deputy Prime Minister to his Damansara Heights residence.
Paul should undertake such a review especially in view of the 32-page written judgement of the Court of Appeal Justice Datuk N.H. Chan last month which dismissed Anwar’s appeal against the High Court’s decision to deny him bail on the ground that the matter was not appealable to the Court of Appeal.
In his judgement, Justice Chan said that there was only one ground of substance in Anwar’s appeal and it concerned the issue of the danger of witnesses being tampered with by Anwar.
He said it was most regrettable that Paul had not known of the latest juristic thinking on this question, which rejects as unsound the argument about the "likelihood of interference with prosecution witnesses".
For this reason, Paul should review his decision not to grant bail to Anwar.
If the prosecution is afraid that Anwar might tamper with witnesses if he is released on bail, Anwar could be confined to his residence, which should be a very easy thing for the police to patrol and monitor.
Another reason why Anwar should be granted bail is that the prosecution has already closed its case after a 46-day trial, making major last-minute amendments to the four charges of corruption against Anwar.