Judge chides federal counsel for 11th hour submission in Shafee contempt case

Lawyer David Thomas Mathews is seen at the Kuala Lumpur High Court May 23, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Lawyer David Thomas Mathews is seen at the Kuala Lumpur High Court May 23, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

KUALA LUMPUR, May 23 — A judge reprimanded a senior federal counsel today for handing in his submissions late in a contempt of court case against lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

High Court Judge Datuk Mohd Firuz Jaffril told off Shamsul Bolhassan, who was representing Attorney General (AG) Tommy Thomas, saying he gave clear instructions to both lawyers to hand in their submissions by May 17.

“I asked you to hand in your submissions by May 17, but you only handed them in last night, it was at 11.33pm I saw.

“As much as I would like to read submissions before bed, you have to be fair to me and let me go through both submissions. If we proceed it won’t be good for your side, as I have read David’s submissions, but I haven’t read yours,” Justice Mohd Firuz told Shamsul, referring to Shafee’s lawyer David Thomas Mathews.

“I would rather start on a clean slate.”

Justice Mohd Firuz then set 3pm today for the hearing to take place to allow him time to go through the prosecution’s submissions.

Shafee’s lawyer today during proceedings had asked permission for his client to address the court, with intentions to apologise for being absent during the last court date on March 25.

Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah is seen at the Kuala Lumpur High Court May 23, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah is seen at the Kuala Lumpur High Court May 23, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

The request was later turned down by Justice Mohd Firuz, who acknowledged that Shafee’s presence in court today was sufficient and could be seen as a sign of apology, before standing down.

On March 1, Mohd Firuz allowed the AG’s application for leave to initiate contempt of court proceedings against Shafee.

In the motion, Thomas said Shafee was an advocate and solicitor representing former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak who had been charged with several offences related to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

He said that on February 7, 2019, Muhammad Shafee was interviewed outside the High Court after a court proceeding involving Najib.

Thomas claimed that the defendant knew or ought to have known that the offensive statement (reportedly made during the interview) was contemptuous to the judge and would undermine the administration of justice and public confidence in the judicial system in Malaysia.

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