Drop charges against lawyer representing client, AG urged

(From left, seated): Lawyer M Manoharan, DAP member and senior advocate and solicitor K Arivom Namasivaya and Hindraf 2.0 de facto leader P Uthayakumar.

KUALA LUMPUR: A lawyer today questioned why one of his clients, who is also a legal practitioner, was slapped with charges of obstructing the police for carrying out their duties, alleging that this was a “malicious prosecution” and tantamount to police intimidation.

M Manoharan said he will be pursuing action against Public Prosecutor Tommy Thomas through a civil suit unless the charges are dropped against K Arivom Namasivaya, a senior advocate and solicitor.

Arivom was charged at the Port Dickson Magistrate’s Court in Negeri Sembilan yesterday under Section 186 of the Penal Code for obstructing a public servant in the discharge of his public functions.

Earlier, Arivom was at the Port Dickson district police headquarters with one of his clients, a domestic violence victim, who was waiting to have a statement recorded.

Arivom, who is also Dutamas Cheras DAP branch assistant secretary, claimed despite the investigating officer (IO) for the case not being present, officers wanted to arrest her.

In the midst of the commotion, an inspector intervened and ordered that Arivom, his client and her juvenile nephew, who was with them at the time, be arrested.

Arivom today said he did not provoke the police. Instead, he constantly said he was prepared to cooperate —but only if the IO showed up.

His counsel, Manoharan, said it was “nonsensical” and “ridiculous” for a lawyer to be accused of such a thing.

He said Arivom had a duty to act in his client’s interest without fear or favour, as stipulated in the Legal Profession Act 1976.

He also claimed that Arivom was not given a copy of his charge sheet and only a vague explanation of what crime he had allegedly committed.

He further asked why the deputy public prosecutor (DPP) pushed for a RM5,000 bail. Arivom is currently out on RM500 bail.

“This is clearly malicious, so we are urging the public prosecutor — Attorney-General Tommy Thomas — to immediately consider and withdraw the charge against Arivom,” Manoharan told a press conference here.

“We are also urging the Selangor Bar and the Bar Council to step in to take appropriate action,” he added. Arivom is a member of the state Bar.

Manoharan questioned if Thomas was aware of the matter, referring to his previous answer that he was not aware of the case against Muslim preacher Wan Ji Wan Hussin for making seditious remarks against the Selangor Sultan until the High Court upheld the decision to convict him recently.

He urged Thomas, all the same, to instruct Negeri Sembilan prosecution unit director and DPP Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin to withdraw the charges against Arivom before the case comes up for mention on Sept 5 and for Arivom to be acquitted that day.

Lawyer and Hindraf 2.0 de facto leader P Uthayakumar, who was also at the press conference, said he had written to Thomas and Wan Shaharuddin earlier to ask them not to prosecute Arivom.

In about 10 minutes, however, he said Wan Shaharuddin wrote back via email and said that his department had already obtained the green light from Solicitor-General III Mohd Hanafiah Zakaria to proceed with the case.

“Under the promised ‘Malaysia Baru’, this is unbecoming,” Uthayakumar said, adding that these are the “old Umno-era elements” that need to be removed from the Attorney-General’s Chambers for “abusing their powers”.

He also claimed that when the Selangor Bar was approached for assistance, it said this was a personal matter and that it would not intervene.

Uthayakumar said this was akin to a “tidak apa” or “nothing wrong” attitude.

Similar letters to the Women’s Aid Organisation, the Bar Council and DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang went unanswered, he said.

Uthayakumar urged Thomas and de facto law minister Liew Vui Keong to review Section 186 of the Penal Code, saying the provision should be defined more clearly on what actually constitutes obstructing the duty of a public officer.

He also said Arivom’s arrest seemed to highlight a pattern in the police force. He said on Wednesday, a lawyer in Sibu, Sarawak, was also detained by police while discharging his duty on behalf of a client.

Arivom’s client’s case is a domestic violence case. He represents the victim, the wife, who he said had allegedly been assaulted by her now ex-husband for the last eight years.

She has since left the house with her son after allegedly being brutally assaulted. She has also lodged 16 police reports against her ex-husband.

Arivom claimed that a police report lodged by the ex-husband after this, where he accused her of stealing his belongings — despite the fact that she was in a different state at the time — was why she was asked to have her statement recorded.

He also claimed she was initially scared to go to the police station because her ex-husband was “close” to a high-ranking police officer there.

While there, Arivom claimed some officers exclaimed, “his wife is here” and “arrest her”.