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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08KUALALUMPUR846 2008-09-24 09:22:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kuala Lumpur
Cable title:  

UPDATES ON ANWAR SODOMY CASE, RAJA PETRA DETENTION

Tags:   PGOV KDEM KJUS MY 
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FM AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1692
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L KUALA LUMPUR 000846 

SIPDIS

FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/19/2018
TAGS: PGOV KDEM KJUS MY
SUBJECT: UPDATES ON ANWAR SODOMY CASE, RAJA PETRA DETENTION

REF: A. KUALA LUMPUR 806

B. KUALA LUMPUR 798

Classified By: Political Counselor Mark D. Clark for reasons 1.4 b and
d.

SUMMARY AND COMMENT
-------------------



1. (SBU) The sodomy case against opposition leader Anwar
Ibrahim continued on September 24 with the prosecution
requesting that the trial be transferred from the trial-level
Sessions Court to the appellate-level High Court. After
listening to arguments, the judge adjourned the hearing for
two weeks while she considers the issues. A day earlier,
Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar announced that prominent and
controversial blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, who was detained
under the Internal Security Act (ISA) on September 12 (reftel
A), has been transferred to a federal prison and is now
beginning a two-year detention period.



2. (C) Comment: Most observers recognize that a High Court
venue will benefit the prosecution in Anwar's case as the
High Court's ranks have many more appointees linked to the
ruling UMNO party. The current Sessions Court Judge SM
Komathy Suppiah continues to strike us as very
independent-minded. End Summary and Comment.

TWO WEEKS TO PREPARE, TWO WEEKS TO DECIDE


--------------------------





3. (SBU) After giving both sides two weeks to prepare for the
next phase of the Anwar Ibrahim sodomy case (reftel B),
Sessions Court Judge SM Komathy Suppiah listened to the
prosecution's motion that this case be transferred to the
High Court. The prosecution presented an order signed by
Attorney General (AG) Abdul Gani Patail instructing the
transfer and cited several previous cases to bolster their
position that the Sessions Court could not deny the transfer
order. The defense team argued that this particular order is
invalid because Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi had previously
instructed Gani Patail to have no direct involvement with
this case, because Gani Patail has been accused of tampering
with the evidence used in Anwar's trial 10 years ago. Judge
Komathy decided to adjourn the hearing for two weeks so that
she could consider the arguments, and said she would render
her decision on the transfer order on October 7.

RAJA PETRA RECEIVES TWO-YEAR DETENTION


--------------------------





4. (SBU) On September 23, Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar
acknowledged signing an order under the ISA detaining Raja
Petra for a two-year period, allowing police to transfer him
to the Kamunting ISA detention center in Perak state. Sayid
Hamid justified the detention based on the police's
conclusion that a series of blogs that Raja Petra posted on
his website were inflammatory towards Islam, "causing
uneasiness among Muslims...."



5. (SBU) The Malaysian Bar Association wasted no time
criticizing the decision to detain Raja Petra for a full
two-year period. Malaysian Bar President Ambiga Sreenevasan
stated, "The ISA is being used against an individual where
other avenues that afford him a chance to defend himself
exist. It confirms the impression that the ISA is being used
for purposes other than national security. It is being used
to stifle dissent." The government dominated daily The New
Straits Times defended the use of ISA in the case of Raja
Petra, commenting that "his fate should be sobering to all
such prospective rabble-rousers...." An opposition member of
Parliament, speaking with Poloff, predicted that there would
be public furor over Raja Petra's two-year detention order
for a few days, but "by next week, this will be a dead. He
will be forgotten".


RAPSON