KUALA LUMPUR, May 18 — Anti-graft officers from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC)'s predecessor were "determined" to handcuff and arrest lawyer Rosli Dahlan despite his offer to meet them on a later date, the High Court heard today.
Lambert Rasa-Ratnam, a senior lawyer in the same law firm, testified today as an eyewitness of the alleged wrongful arrest in 2007 when Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) officers had forcibly slapped on the handcuffs on Rosli, which caused swelling and bleeding on his wrists.
"There was never once any suggestion that if he went along with them, he would not be handcuffed. In fact, from my impression, they were determined to handcuff him," the fourth witness appearing for Rosli told the High Court here, having confirmed that Rosli had already said he would show up at ACA's office after Hari Raya that year.
During cross-examination, Lambert also testified that he believed that the entire process of arresting, handcuffing and charging Rosli was unnecessary and merely done to humiliate the lawyer.
"There was no need to handcuff Rosli other than to embarrass him in front of him and his staff," the partner of the firm said.
"Again I confess this is my personal view, but to me, the whole exercise from the time Rosli was issued the notice to what happened that day in the office to his detention overnight and his subsequent charging was completely unnecessary, was completely calculated to humiliate him," he later added.
Lambert was with Rosli in the latter's office with three ACA officers on October 11, 2007 — the eve of Hari Raya — before two other officers, Sok One Esen and Azam Baki, entered later.
He described Sok One as having allegedly acted in an "aggressive and animated" manner and shouted to bring Rosli down to handcuff him, besides telling the lawyer that he would punch him.
Lambert confirmed that Rosli's handcuffs were finally removed after repeated pleading from the firm's staff and that he was allowed to make one phone call to his wife.
The firm's then-managing partner Ng Leong Huat, who also testified and was later present in Rosli's room, confirmed that he had received reports from his staff that the firm's security was breached by the ACA officers as the office was located on the 17th floor - a restricted zone not open to the public.
Two secretaries from Rosli's firm also testified, with Lai Pey Nie stating in her witness statement that two men had exited the building's lift with her at the 17th floor, before shouting loudly for Rosli.
They ignored her request for them to identify themselves and wait, allegedly acting rudely and aggressively as one of them forcibly pushed past the glass door that she had opened using her employee access card, and continued to shout loudly as they searched for Rosli in the office space restricted to employees.
Rosli's secretary, Ayuniza Iswan, who also testified, said in her witness statement that the first three officers had insisted on following her to the 17th floor office.
She added that she was alarmed at the sounds of slamming in Rosli's office and had went in with another employee, Yuskaheriani Subor, before the latter two officers entered, describing the same handcuffing scene that she had witnessed and the initial snubbing of her requests for the handcuffs to be removed.
Lawyer Kumar Kanagasingam, a partner in the same firm, also testified as the sixth witness for the plaintiff Rosli.
In this civil suit against 12 defendants, Rosli is claiming RM48 million in damages for defamation, conspiracy to injure, wrongful arrest, wrongful detention and assault, among other things.
The hearing before Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Datuk Su Geok Yiam resumes on May 25 to 29, with the next witness expected to be Rosli's then client and former Commercial Crime Investigation Department director Datuk Ramli Yusuff.
The first four defendants — namely Utusan’s publisher Utusan (Melayu) Malaysia Bhd and its three employees — had apologised and settled its suit with Rosli, while the 16th defendant is also no longer part of the suit.
The fifth to 17th defendants include the MACC chief Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed, MACC prosecutor Anthony Kevin Morais and the government.
In October 2007, the ACA had arrested and charged Rosli with allegedly failing to declare his assets.
Rosli was then implicated of allegedly holding RM27 million worth of assets for Ramli, who was later charged with alleged corruption.
Both men have been acquitted of all charges against them.