Lawyers and even court interpreters feel the heat

Lawyers and even court interpreters feel the heat
PHOTO: The Star/ANN

KUALA LUMPUR - Quite often, the spotlight may not be on them but court interpreters will tell you that they face much harassment in their job.

Accused persons and their family members would scold them when they are merely trying to explain the outcome of a case to them, said a criminal court interpreter who declined to be named.

Some witnesses would also hurl insults while the legal process was being explained to them.

"Sometimes, they would call us stupid, belittling us publicly," said the court interpreter with 12 years of experience.

He said his counterparts had no choice but to stay silent during such verbal abuses.

The murder of deputy public prosecutor Anthony Kevin Morais, whose body was found on Wednesday, highlighted the perils faced by those in the legal fraternity.

The court interpreter said they would also get blamed by the accused and family members when the judgment was not in their favour.

Another court interpreter, who has 15 years of experience, said sometimes they had to deal with rude witnesses who tried to be "bossy" in court.

Fahmi Abd Moin, a former DPP and a prosecuting officer for 15 years, said he was harassed by a bomoh when he handled a rape case involving a former army officer.

"His family hired a bomoh. The bomoh would often stand outside the courtroom and throw beras (rice) at me and chant," said Fahmi.

He said there were also poison pen letters sent to the prosecution division heads, alleging some prosecutors of accepting bribes from the accused.

Fahmi said there had been occasions when his name was misused with some people claiming that he could "settle" their cases for them.

"They spread stories, alleging that so-and-so can be easily bribed," he said.

He cited a case in which his Bank Negara colleague, who handled an illegal deposit-taking case involving a leader of a cult, was harassed.

"The accused, who was unemployed, even ordered his supporter to shoot him at a traffic light," he said.

Fahmi said he was offered a bribe by a lawyer to settle his client's drug case.

"The lawyer ended up being convicted in court for offering bribes," he said.

Fahmi said the accused persons often assumed that prosecutors were the ones who determined their fate.

"But our task is to ensure all evidence is produced before the court. It is for the court to decide," he added.

As for the lawyers, many of them encountered harassment via social media.

"I get messages like 'watch where you walk at night'," said lawyer New Sin Yew.

Lawyer Edmund Bon said he was also harassed on Facebook and Twitter.

"Sometimes, I get racist remarks," he said.

Counsel Amer Hamzah Arshad said that he had received text messages with racial undertones.

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