PUTRAJAYA: Lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah gave an interview to a newspaper and participated in an Umno-organised forum as he wanted to defend the judiciary for convicting Anwar Ibrahim for sodomy, the Court of Appeal heard today.
Shafee said Anwar scandalised the court after the Federal Court on Feb 10, 2015 affirmed his conviction for his sexual misconduct against his former aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.
The opposition leader was reported to have accused the Federal Court of being on the “dark side” for upholding the sodomy charge that he maintained was politically motivated.
Anwar told the five-man apex court bench then that in bowing to the dictates of political masters, they had become partners in crime to the murder of the judiciary.
“His counsel, Gopal Sri Ram, could have stopped Anwar’s rampage against the judges but did not interfere,” said Shafee.
The lawyer is appearing in person to appeal against the dismissal of his defamation suit against the Malaysian Bar, its former president Christopher Leong and two senior lawyers.
Justice Hanipah Farikullah, in her ruling on May 26, 2016, had said the move by the senior lawyers, Tommy Thomas and VC George, to censure Shafee 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 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.
Shafee today said the Malaysian Bar, which was entrusted to uphold the cause of justice without regard or favour, also did not issue any statement to defend the judges.
“I was the lead prosecutor and Anwar’s statement was an insult and I had criticised the court for not acting agianst him,” said Shafee, who was appointed ad-hoc prosecutor by the government to appeal against Anwar’s acquittal by the High Court in 2012.
Shafee said instead, Leong issued a statement to question whether Anwar’s conviction amounted to persecution and was also disappointed with then attorney-general Abdul Ghani Patail for not initiating contempt proceedings.
He said even former Bar president Ambiga Sreenevasan had made veiled threats, which were reported by the now defunct news portal The Malaysian Insider, that Anwar would be more dangerous while in prison as the government would soon find out it had made a mistake.
Shafee said Anwar’s daughter Nurul Izzah, who is Lembah Pantai MP, also attacked the judiciary in the Dewan Rakyat.
“My intention was to defend the judgment and the judiciary,” he said, adding this was his motivating factor as the Bar was misleading the public.
Shafee said he gave an exclusive interview to the New Straits Times on Feb 13 and took part in the forum held in Kelana Jaya on Feb 17, 2015 to “fight the prejudices against the judiciary”.
He also told the bench that he was in the forefront together with Ambiga to defend the independence of the judiciary when it was under assault in 1988.
He said he did not reveal in-camera evidence of the sodomy trial but only went into detail to explain that Saiful was a compliant sex slave to Anwar and no DNA evidence was tampered with.
Shafee said he declined to attend the AGM as the motion to discuss his conduct was illegal.
“Any complaint against members for alleged misconduct must be referred to the board for disciplinary action,” he said, adding that his appeal should be allowed as all defences pleaded by the defendants were not applicable.
Ambiga, who is representing Thomas, said there was no malice intended against Shafee when the motion was filed.
She said in the United States, prosecutors give media interviews after the day’s proceeding and the accused person is not attacked.
“At the forum, Shafee’s conduct was unacceptable and he was not defending the court’s judgment,” she said.
Lawyer Porres Royen, appearing for George, said Shafee was skirting the main issue about the motion and was instead emphasising his role as defender of the judiciary.
Bench chairman David Wong Dak Wah, who sat with Justices Umi Kalthum Abdul Majib and Ahmadi Asnawi, said judgment would be delivered on another date.