KUALA LUMPUR: Lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told the High Court today that the judgment in Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s Sodomy Trial 2 handed down by the Federal Court had to be explained to the public to avoid any misconception.
Muhammad Shafee, who was the DPP in Anwar’s sodomy appeal in the Federal Court, said that as a matter of public interest, the judgment had to be explained properly and the truth told.
He said certain quarters had sought to politicise and poison the public in the matter and ultimately throw the credibility and independence of the judiciary into question.
“It is in the interest of justice that the independence and integrity of the judiciary must be upheld and kept sacred,” he said in his witness statement tendered in court.
Muhammad Shafee, 63, was testifying at the hearing of his defamation suit against the Malaysian Bar, lawyer Tommy Thomas, former Appeals Court judge Tan Sri V. C. George, and former Bar Council president Christopher Leong.
In the suit, Muhammad Shafee claimed that on Feb 28 last year, Thomas, who was seconded by George, had published and submitted a motion for discussion at the Bar annual general meeting on March 14 relating to his conduct as the DPP in Anwar’s sodomy appeal in the Federal Court.
(Muhammad Shafee was appointed by the then Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail by fiat (authorisation) to conduct the appeal against Anwar at the Federal Court. The appointment was provided for under Section 376(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code and Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution.)
In his testimony today, Muhammad Shafee stressed that he was invited to give a talk titled “Dialog bersama Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah” (Dialogue with Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah) to explain the judgment to the public in Kelana Jaya on Feb 17 last year, seven days after the judgment was delivered by the Federal Court.
“There were people out there who wanted a better explanation as there were different factions giving different explanations. After all, the matter was already concluded to its finality, and there was no further issue of sub judice.
So I took the stand to clarify the case and judgment,” he said. Muhammad Shafee said the dialogue was not of his own initiative but he was invited to give talks and he felt that he could help to at least correct a number of misconceptions surrounding the case.
He said it was never his intention to condemn Anwar who, as a convicted person, could not answer at the dialogue and that the explanation on the judgment was meant to clear the doubts of the public.
When cross-examined by lawyer Datuk S. Ambiga, representing Tommy, Muhammad Shafee maintained that his statement over the Federal Court’s judgment was to educate and inform the public on what had transpired in court.
“My statement was consistent with the Federal Court’s judgment. I wanted to educate the public and to debunk any wrong impression on the judgment,” he said.
Muhammad Shafee dismissed a suggestion by Ambiga that he had launched his personal attack when describing Anwar as “cowardly” after he (Anwar) chose to give his defence from the dock.
The hearing before Judge Datuk Hanipah Farikullah continues tomorrow. – BERNAMA