Anwar's bid to disqualify lawyer fails

PUTRAJAYA - Oppsoition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim failed in his second attempt at the Court of Appeal here yesterday to disqualify lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah from leading the prosecution in its appeal against his acquittal on a sodomy charge.

The unanimous decision by a three-member panel, delivered by Datuk Aziah Ali, ruled that the statutory declaration (SD) made by former Kuala Lumpur Criminal Investigation Department chief Datuk Mat Zain Ibrahim bore no relevance to the facts in the case.

"The SD mainly referred to a 'black eye incident' and we concur with Shafee's arguments (during submissions on Thursday) that it is hearsay evidence."

Aziah said there were latent defects in the SD, which included Mat Zain's MyKad number and address that were blotted out.

"There is no conceivable evidence as to why he (Mat Zain) would refuse to disclose those details (in the SD) if he stood by his allegations," she said, adding there were also discrepancies in the particulars contained in the SD compared with information from the Insolvency Department.

She said because of this, the SD could not be admitted as evidence.

As for the claim that it would appear that Anwar was not getting a fair trial if Shafee prosecuted, she said the latter was not the only deputy public prosecutor appointed to the case.

There were two other DPPs -- Datuk Mohd Hanafiah Zakaria and Noorin Badaruddin.

She said the public prosecutor had no obligation in exercising his discretionary powers to provide reasons on Shafee's appointment.

Aziah said the appellant had ample opportunities to raise the SD in his first application to disqualify Shafee instead of carrying out the matter in stages.

Thus, she said, the application was bereft of any evidence and lacked merit.