Bar to take stand on 2 lawyers facing contempt charges

Malaysian Bar president George Varughese says they will hold a watching brief in the case of two lawyers accused of contempt of court. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Bar intends to take a legal position on two lawyers being hauled up for showing disrespect to the court, its president George Varughese said.

“The position we are going to take depends on the allegation made against the lawyers. We will uphold the cause of justice and what is legally right,” he told FMT.

He said this in response to Attorney-General Tommy Thomas obtaining leave from the court to cite lawyer Arunachalam Kasi, better known as Arun Kasi, and Muhammad Shafee Abdullah for contempt.

Arun is said to have blemished the Federal Court in two articles which were published in the Aliran online portal recently in reference to Court of Appeal judge Abdul Hamid Abu Backer’s allegations of judicial misconduct.

Thomas has also been given the green light to begin contempt proceedings against Shafee over the latter’s remarks allegedly undermining the administration of justice.

Shafee was alleged to have made the comments in response to questions from the media outside the High Court after former prime minister Najib Razak’s SRC International case on Feb 7.

He reportedly said that Najib’s defence team could win if the judge was left alone and not influenced.

He allegedly added that victory was possible “if the judge is straight, if witnesses are not coached, and if evidence is not fabricated”.

In Arun’s case, the Federal Court gave the approval on Wednesday while the High Court allowed the application yesterday.

Varughese said the Attorney-General’s Chambers served the court papers on Arun’s matter to the Bar Council yesterday.

“We are studying it and will get independent legal advice before coming to a decision on the position to take,” he said, adding that the council would adopt a similar approach in Shafee’s case.

“When proceedings start, we will be there to hold a watching brief or act as a friend of the court,” he added.

Meanwhile, Varughese said the Bar would also send its lawyers to observe the trials of Shafee and Mohd Hafarizam Harun, both facing money laundering charges.

“These cases are of interest to us as allegations were made that client’s account was used to launder money,” he said.

Last year, Shafee was slapped with four charges of money laundering at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court in connection with a RM9.5 million payment from Najib.

Hafarizam last week claimed trial at the Sessions Court to two counts of money laundering amounting to RM15 million.

Several cheques for the amount are said to have come from Najib and were deposited into the client’s account of the legal firm of which Hafarizam is a partner.