PUTRAJAYA, Nov 11 — The Federal Court will decide next week on whether prominent Umno lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah can act on behalf of the government in appealing against Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s acquittal of a second sodomy charge.
Court of Appeal president, Tan Sri Md Rauf Sharif, who chaired a full bench in the apex court, said they would need time to go through the submissions from both sides.
“We will need time to come to a decision. We will come back on November 21 at 11am for our decision,” he said after hearing submissions from both parties today.
Anwar is attempting to bar Shafee from acting for the Attorney-General in the government’s appeal in the opposition leader’s second sodomy acquittal, on grounds that Shafee is not qualified to be appointed as a deputy public prosecutor (DPP).
The Court of Appeal in an earlier judgment, ruled unanimously in favour of allowing Shafee to represent the government as there were no substantial grounds to prove that he was unfit to assume the duties of a DPP.
Today, Anwar’s lead counsel, Karpal Singh, maintained their argument that Shafee is saddled with the perception that he is an interested party in the entire case.
Karpal said that Shafee had been present at Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s residence, when complainant Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan had gone to see the country’s top leader to relate his alleged ordeal with Anwar.
“Yes, the PM’s house is large. But what was he doing there? He was at the house at the same time that the complainant was present. Isn’t that perception enough?” Karpal told the five-member bench.
Shafee countered that the court cannot make a decision based on unproven claims, as there is no evidence to support the argument that there is a conflict of interest in his appointment by the A-G to lead their appeal against Anwar’s acquittal.
He said the mere fact that he was present in “one corner of the house” while the meeting between Najib and Saiful went on does not prove that he had anything to do with it.
“Just because I was present at one corner of the house, to say that I must be involved in the meeting is a mere allegation and pure conjecture.
“If the facts do not support the idea of my disqualification, then the issue of perception does not arise,” he said.
The government’s appeal against Anwar’s acquittal is scheduled to resume on December 11 at the Court of Appeal.