PUTRAJAYA: In an unexpected move, a lawyer from the private sector has been authoritised by the Attorney-General to lead the prosecution team in their appeal against the acquittal of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim over his sodomy charge.
Datuk Seri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah (pic) said he had been informed by the A-G via a letter dated July 2, authorising him to be a Deputy Public Prosecutor, a position that also pays a “nominal” salary.
He declined to disclose the amount.
It is infrequent for a lawyer to be engaged by the A-G to appear for the prosecution.
(The Government’s appointment in 2009 of lawyer Datuk Tan Hock Chuan in the inquest into Teoh Beng Hock’s death is the last known such case.)
Yesterday, Muhammad Shafee said he considered the appointment as “public service”.
Muhammad Shafee was a former DPP who quit in 1983. He was known to have won numerous cases on murder, drug-trafficking, gun possession and criminal breach of trust, among others.
He told the Court of Appeal yesterday that he had no objection to the adjournment of the criminal appeal as Anwar’s lead counsel, Karpal Singh, had been admitted to the hospital for back pains.
Lawyer Ramkarpal Singh told the panel, chaired by Justice Ramly Ali, who sat together with Justices Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat and Mohd Zawawi Salleh. that Karpal had been admitted since Saturday and he was not sure when the veteran lawyer would be discharged.
Speaking to reporters later, Ramkarpal said they would be objecting to Muhammad Shafee’s appointment.
“He had also done work for Umno in the past. It might not be proper for him to represent the prosecution in this case,” he said.
Outside the court, Anwar told reporters that the appointment was prejudicial towards him and that the appeal was an attempt to frustrate him politically.
Anwar was acquitted by the High Court last year for allegedly sodomising Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, his former aide, on June 26, 2008.
Justice Ramly set Aug 1 for case management.
Meanwhile, Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail said Muhammad Shafee was appointed to be the lead prosecutor in the appeal against Anwar’s acquittal as he had vast experience in handling criminal cases.
Muhammad Shafee, he said, had also held a watching brief for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
(The lawyer had acted for MACC in the coroner’s court for the 2011 inquest into the death of Selangor Customs assistant director Ahmad Sarbaini Mohamed.)