KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 — Utusan Melayu (Malaysia) Bhd and its editor-in-chief Datuk Abdul Aziz Ishak will have to pay Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim RM200,000 in damages for defaming him in two articles relating to his BBC interview four years ago.
This is because the publisher of the Malay newspaper and Abdul Aziz failed to obtain leave to proceed with their appeal to the Federal Court, thus could not appeal against the decisions of the High Court and Court of Appeal in awarding damages to the former opposition leader.
The Federal Court three-man panel chaired by Justice Tan Sri Hasan Lah unanimously dismissed their application for leave to appeal and ordered them to pay RM10,000 in legal costs.
Justice Hasan said the court did not find any merit in the application. Presiding with him were Justices Tan Sri Abu Samah Nordin and Tan Sri Zaharah Ibrahim.
Utusan Melayu’s counsel, Wan Azmir Wan Majid sought the court to give leave to appeal and proposed four legal questions for determination by the Federal Court relating to the issue of whether Anwar’s Sodomy II conviction could be used to reduce the quantum of damages in the defamation suit.
Lawyer Latheefa Koya, representing Anwar, said the court should not grant the application for leave to appeal as the issues raised were not novel and had been decided by the Federal Court.
Anwar, 69, sued Utusan Melayu and Abdul Aziz alleging that they had published two libellous articles against him on the front page and page 10 of the Utusan Malaysia newspaper, dated Jan 17, 2012, in relation to his BBC interview.
He won his claim against Utusan Melayu and Abdul Aziz who were subsequently ordered by the High Court on Oct 19, last year to pay him RM100,000 in general damages and another RM100,000 in aggravated damages.
They lost their appeal at the Court of Appeal on May 25, this year, prompting them to bring the matter to the Federal Court.
Anwar is serving a five-year jail term at the Sungai Buloh prison after the Federal Court on Feb 10, 2015 upheld his conviction and sentence for sodomising his former aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.
Outside the court, Latheefa told reporters that it was the end of the road for Utusan Melayu and Abdul Aziz over the matter following the Federal Court’s decision to deny them leave to appeal. — Bernama