PETALING JAYA: Lawyer Haniff Khatri has denied allegations that he and his fellow colleague Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali were involved in hiring thugs that led to the riots at the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in USJ 25.
Haniff who was appointed by developer One City Development Sdn Bhd about 12 hours after the first incident on Monday (Nov 26), said that some irresponsible people had spread misinformation about him and Rafique.
Haniff is representing two of the detained One City staff members while Rafique is representing another.
Pictures of the both of them with captions claiming that they were the lawyers responsible in hiring the thugs had gone viral on messaging platforms such as WhatsApp.
“We condemn these lies and slander, and we are warning that we will take legal action against anyone who does not stop spreading this slander,” he said in a statement on Thursday.
Haniff said that he and Rafique were living proof that the revelation of inaccurate or premature details of an ongoing investigation could threaten the safety of individuals not involved in the issue.
Haniff also said that none of the three staff members of One City who were remanded over the temple fracas are practising lawyers.
Haniff said that one of them was a law graduate but that he did not practise law while working with the company.
Haniff was responding to claims by Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who said that lawyers representing the developer had paid a group of thugs to "take care of things" at the temple.
Muhyiddin had said the leader of the group was given RM150,000 by the lawyers, which was used to pay some 50 thugs involved in the fiasco.
“As I have said in my writings or interviews, it is the responsibility of the authorities to give public statements regarding developments on investigations into cases, especially that of public interest.
“However at the same time, those public statements cannot reveal specific information that can threaten the safety of anyone or affect the investigations and a fair criminal trial, if it comes to that,” said Haniff.
He said that some of the statements by Muhyiddin during a press conference could affect the rule of law as some of them were inaccurate or because the investigations were still ongoing.
A group who had congregated at the temple turned rowdy, when they smashed glass panels at the One City Mall early Tuesday (Nov 27).
Prior to that, about 100 people gathered at the temple, some with their mouths covered and wearing high-visibility vests before storming the temple gates.
The temple management and the developer had been locked in a wrangle for several years now, with the former refusing to move to the new location allocated for the temple.