The Federal Court today unexpectedly put off giving its decision on an appeal by jailed former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim against his sodomy conviction.
The decision was due to be given this Thursday but Anwar's lawyer Sankara Nair received a fax from the court this afternoon announcing the adjournment.
"The matter has been postponed to a date to be fixed later," Sankara told malaysiakini.
No reasons were however given for the postponement. Nair expressed his astonishment when he was informed about the cancellation to the eagerly awaited decision.
"We did not apply for one (an adjournment)...," he said.
Strange and peculiar
In an immediate reaction, Anwar's wife and Keadilan president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said she found it to be "strange and peculiar" for the case to be adjourned at the eleventh hour.
"I was just informed by Sankara and I am surprised by this turn of event. I have no idea why it was adjourned," she said.
She added that the adjournment could not be due to Anwar's failing health as he was informed by his doctors yesterday that he was fit to attend the case.
Anwar has been warded in the hospital as a result of a long-standing chronic backache complaint.
"I just hope that they will now fix an early date to give their decision."
Two months ago, a three-man Federal Court bench consisting of Abdul Hamid Mohamad, Rahman Hussein and Tengku Baharudin Shah Tengku Mahmud heard extensive submissions from lawyers on the matter.
After hearing the appeal, the judges said that they would announced their decision 'as soon as possible'.
The court had announced last Thursday that it would deliver its judgment on July 22.
The appeal will be Anwar's last chance to have his nine-year sentence quashed, on the grounds that the conduct of the trial four years ago was deeply-flawed.
Anwar is appealing against a High Court decision on Aug 8, 2000, which convicted him and adopted brother Sukma Darmawan Sasmitaat Madja of sodomising Anwar's former family driver Azizan Abu Bakar.
Their application to the Court of Appeal was rejected on April 18 last year.
Linked to PM's trip?
The sudden turn of event has many political commentators linking the adjournment to the visit by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to the United States, France and United Kingdom this week.
On Thursday, Abdullah is due to be in London, and an unfavourable decision for Anwar could see pressure being piled on the premier there, said an analyst.
Abdullah will be meeting British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Friday.
He met with US President George W Bush today and will be meeting French President Jacques Chirac on Wednesday.
Yesterday, Abdullah had again stressed the government's stand in not allowing Anwar to seek treatment in Germany for his slipped disc.
"There is no reason to go abroad. We have experienced and capable doctors," he told CNN during a live interview.
Early this month, Wan Azizah revealed that her husband was in danger of becoming paralysed if the authorities do not provide him with proper medical facilities or deny him an endoscopic surgery overseas.
He has been asking the government to allow him to seek proper treatment in Germany, a request which has been rejected by the government. He is expected to remain hospitalised indefinitely.
Anwar, who was sacked in 1998 by then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, is currently serving a 15-year jail sentence in Selangor's Sungai Buloh prison.
While he has finished his sentence for his first conviction for corruption, he still has nine years to serve for sodomy.