PUTRAJAYA: Comments about Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's gay tendencies in his first sodomy trial cannot be used to attack his character in a libel suit, ruled the Court of Appeal.
The court allowed Anwar to weed out any mention of a 2004 Federal Court judgment from the defence papers put in by three defendants he had sued for defamation.
Senator Datuk Seri S. Nallakaruppan, Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd and its editor-in-chief Datuk Abdul Aziz Ishak were sued over a 2012 article published in Utusan Malaysia, which claimed Anwar was unfit to lead the opposition coalition and a bisexual.
Justice Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim also dismissed cross appeals by Nallakaruppan and Utusan Melayu to reinstate the plea of justification in their defence.
Justice Abdul Aziz said written grounds of judgment would be delivered in two weeks.
The three-man panel, which also included Justices David Wong Dak Wah and Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim, ordered RM15,000 in cost be paid to Anwar.
Anwar’s lawyer Shahid Adli Kamarudin told reporters the case was fixed for case management at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on June 4.
Anwar is serving a five-year prison sentence following a Federal Court’s decision on Feb 10 to uphold his conviction for sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari on June 26, 2008.
On March 25, 2012, Anwar filed the RM100mil suit, alleging that Nallakaruppan had uttered defamatory words against him in a front-page story published in Utusan Malaysia.
In his statement of claim, Anwar said the statement implied he was of low moral, unqualified to hold the Opposition leader’s post and a Muslim leader whose conduct is not in accordance with Islamic teachings.
Nallakaruppan’s statement of defence mentioned the majority decision by the Federal Court in September 2004, where the panel acquitted Anwar of sodomising his family’s driver Azizan Abu Bakar at Tivoli Villa in Kuala Lumpur in 1994.
Despite the acquittal, Justice Abdul Hamid Omar remarked in his judgment that Anwar had “homosexual tendencies”.
On Dec 26, 2012, the Kuala Lumpur High Court allowed an application by Anwar to remove portions of the defence statement but not the reference to Justice Abdul Hamid’s comment.
Nallakaruppan, Utusan Melayu and Abdul Aziz Ishak had pleaded the defence of justification, qualified privilege and fair comment.
High Court Judicial Commissioner Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera struck out the plea of justification but allowed the defences of qualified privilege, fair comment and mitigation of damages to be retained.