Lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who was given a licence to prosecute Anwar Ibrahim for sodomy on behalf of the government, smeared the opposition leader’s name even after securing a conviction for sexual misconduct, the Court of Appeal was told today. Counsel Ambiga Sreenevasan said Shafee even went to the extent of challenging anyone why Anwar should not be found guilty.
She said the ad-hoc prosecutor also declared that Anwar should have been charged under Section 377B of the Penal Code, which carried a heavier penalty of up to 20 years.
Anwar, whose conviction for committing the offence against his former aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, was affirmed by the Federal Court on Feb 10, 2015, was sentenced to a five-year jail term.
Prosecutors had framed a charge under Section 377C, which carried a minimum jail term of five years.
“This was like saying that Anwar should have been charged with murder that carries the death penalty instead of culpable homicide not amounting to murder that provides only a jail term,” she said.
Ambiga said Shafee, who was given a licence to prosecute at the Court of Appeal in 2014, planned to smear Anwar’s name after the conviction was affirmed by the apex court.
“Even a deputy public prosecutor would not have done that and the move by Shafee was unusual,” said Ambiga, who is appearing for lawyer Tommy Thomas.
Shafee is appealing against a May 26, 2016 High Court ruling that had dismissed his defamation suit against the Malaysian Bar, its former president Christopher Leong and two senior lawyers.
Justice Hanipah Farikullah, in her ruling, had said the move by the senior lawyers, Tommy Thomas and VC George, to censure the Umno lawyer for his conduct after the sodomy case was justified.
Hanipah said although she found the words in the lawyers’ motion against Shafee at the Malaysian Bar’s annual general meeting (AGM) in March 2015 to be defamatory, the two had successfully proven there was substantial truth in the motion.
The two said from the time the Federal Court convicted Anwar, Shafee, who was the deputy public prosecutor in the case, had behaved in a repugnant and obnoxious manner, which brought the legal profession into disrepute.
In their motion submitted at the AGM, the two senior lawyers also urged the incoming council for the 2015-2016 term to lodge a report against Shafee with the Advocates and Solicitors Disciplinary Board.
They said steps had to be taken to further prevent Shafee from bringing the legal profession into disrepute.
Today, Ambiga said it was Shafee who put the Federal Court judgment in public domain soon after its verdict.
“He criticised Anwar for only giving a statement from the dock during the trial in the High Court and compared it with Saiful offering evidence under oath and being cross-examined by defence lawyers.
“The law provided Anwar with the option to give an unsworn statement but he said the accused was a coward.”
Ambiga said Shafee also provided an exclusive interview with the Umno-controlled New Straits Times to run down Anwar and also spoke on matters that were never raised in the Federal Court during the prosecutor’s appeal.
“He even spoke at an Umno-organised forum in Kelana Jaya and thereby took sides with a political party.
“The event was streamed live and Shafee even divulged in-camera evidence. We do not know how many people followed the forum,” she said.
Lawyer Porres Royen, who is appearing for George, said there was no defamation, conspiracy or breach of statutory duty by the Bar in attempting to discuss Shafee’s conduct.
“His pleadings are also bereft of particulars of an alleged conspiracy by the defendants,” she said.
Lawyer Lambert Rasaratnam, representing Leong and the Bar, said the AGM could discuss members’ conduct, only that it could not impose a punishment.
He said the Bar Council finally lodged a complaint against Shafee with the board, which is now pending.
Meanwhile, Shafee said the Bar Council should have referred him to the board instead of trying to discuss his conduct.
The AGM was barred from discussing Shafee’s action as the lawyer had obtained an injunction but he filed the suit because notices and the motion were sent to all the 18,000 lawyers.
Shafee said Tommy, George or any member of the public could have complained to the board, which was an independent body.
“This mob justice was an attempt to humiliate and condemn me. Cooking and frying me first and only then wanting to refer my case to the board,” he said.
The appeal hearing before a three-member bench, chaired by Justice David Wong Dak Wah, continues.-FMT