Saturday, September 22, 2007

Malaysia's Currupt Legal System: CJ to step down? Video footage

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Remove judge: Calls escalate for probe into Malaysian judicial fixing claims

(AFP) - Malaysia's opposition, rights groups and two prominent anti-corruption campaigners on Friday joined calls for a probe into allegations a lawyer "fixed" judicial appointments with a senior judge.

Former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim unleashed a furore Wednesday by releasing a video clip that purportedly showed a well-connected lawyer telling a judge over the telephone that he would push his name forward for a senior appointment.

Param Cumaraswamy, a former United Nations special rapporteur on judicial independence and one-time head of Transparency International Malaysia, called on Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to remove the judge for gross misconduct.

The video clip's contents "confirm the concerns expressed by many in the past on how our justice system has been manipulated by certain personalities," Param told reporters.

"It also confirms that there must be a sizeable number of litigants who must have been subjected to judicial injustice before Malaysian courts as a result of such manipulations."

Together with Abdul Aziz, also a former Transparency International president and a special advisor on ethics to former UN chief Kofi Annan, Param urged the prime minister to reform the judiciary.

Anwar said he believed the conversation, allegedly conducted in 2002, had affected the outcome of his treatment in the courts.

The ex-deputy was heir apparent to former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad until his sacking in 1998, when he was hit with sodomy and corruption charges that landed him in jail for six years.

The sodomy conviction was later overturned but the corruption verdict stands, barring Anwar from standing for public office until April 2008.

Human rights group Aliran called for an investigation into several legal cases where it said the presiding judges had leap-frogged more senior judges.

"All these cases only confirmed that the ugly hands of politics were pervasive in our system of justice which was manipulated as a political tool," Aliran president P. Ramakrishnan said in a statement.

Opposition Democratic Action Party leader Lim Kit Siang also pressed for the judge's suspension and a probe into the affair, saying it had triggered "a crisis of confidence in the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary".

"Forty-eight hours have passed and neither ... had denied that there was such a telephone conversation between them, which would be the first reaction of anyone to a doctored video tape," Lim said.

Param Cumaraswamy and Tunku Abdul Aziz Press Conference

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