Why was 'dropout' Saiful given additional perks, Shafee asks

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PUTRAJAYA (Oct 31): On the fourth day of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's Sodomy II appeal hearing at the Federal Court, the lead prosecutor spoke of a possible relationship between the opposition leader and complainant Mohamad Saiful Bukhari Azlan, and rejected claims that the charge was a political conspiracy.

Noting that Saiful was a mere school dropout but was allegedly given allowances and perks on top of his basic salary by Anwar, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah submitted that this pointed to a possible relationship.

Shafee said Saiful, who has served as Anwar's aide, had testified that his "basic salary was RM1,000, but the allowances were quite generous...there were overseas trips often".

Saiful had said that when he was in Singapore for a trip, he was given US$1,000 as allowance and when he was in Hong Kong, he was given HK$1,000.

Saiful was also given Anwar's own luxury-brand suit, Shafee said, urging the court to take into consideration these points which indicate there could be relationship between the two of them.

Shafee was replying to points raised by Anwar's lawyers over the last three days, in their bid to reverse the PKR de facto leader's sodomy conviction.

Anwar, who is accused of sodomising Saiful at an apartment in Bukit Damansara in June 2008, was initially found not guilty by the High Court in January 2012.

But the Court of Appeal overturned the acquittal in March this year, and sentenced him to five years' jail.  

Shafee submitted that the act of sodomy could have happened more than once, based on Saiful's testimony that Anwar had allegedly asked if he could perform the act with Saiful "today".

Shafee said that the word  "today" indicated that the act may have happened before as well.

The prosecutor also referred to Saiful's testimony that the act was concluded in five minutes "as usual", saying this indicated that the alleged act had occurred before.

Shafee also addressed doubts raised by Anwar's lawyer Ramkarpal Singh yesterday, that there was a discrepancy in the length of time the alleged sodomy took place.

In his testimony, Saiful had said that it lasted five minutes, but he had initially told investigating officer Jude Pereira and doctors at Kuala Lumpur Hospital that it was for 30 minutes, to the extent that there was pain in his anus and stomach.

Shafee said that the 30 minutes included time to shower and other matters, not the actual sexual act alone.

Shafee also briefly tackled the defence's main arguments that Saiful was not a credible witness.

Going back to Saiful's testimony, he argued that it contained details which could not have been planned.

Citing as an example, he said Saiful was asked if he had curry puff and tea with Anwar, and he had answered that he did not have tea but rather "Nescafe 3 in 1".

He added that after the alleged act, Saiful had said that Anwar had advised him about prayers and sin. Such details, Shafee submitted, could not be made up.

Shafee also submitted that the fact that Saiful had curry puff and a drink with Anwar after the alleged act, cannot be used against Saiful as he was under some pressure.

"You must remember, people who are subjected to sexual harassment or abuse, they become subservient.

"(And this is) Not an ordinary appellant. This is someone who is dominant, charismatic and influential," he argued.

On the defence's argument that this was a politically motivated charge, Shafee said Anwar had claimed that the charge was a wide allegation and was in no uncertain terms "a conspiracy of the highest level from the prime minister to the humble investigating officer Jude Pereira".

Shafee said Anwar had made a similar accusation against former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed, whom he had allegedly accused of seeking to send him (Anwar) into political oblivion.

He said that he will examine this and try to analyse what the defence meant by this conspiracy.

He also argued on points of contention regarding Anwar's statement from the dock.

"No one asked him for reasons why he should give a statement from the dock. He could have just completely shut his mouth about it, but Anwar choose to say [as to] why he wanted to give a statement," he said.

Anwar's co-counsel N Surendran had submitted that his client had "not once, but five times" said in his statement, as to why he chose to give a statement from the dock.

On the point of alibi, Shafee asked why Anwar could not give a testimony, just because he claimed that his alibi witnesses were harassed.

"When police did that, witnesses are scared…. you interviewed them, because of that, I can't give testimony," he said, adding that it didn't add up.