Counsel: Anwar’s plea can cause trial havoc

(NST) KUALA LUMPUR: Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has the right to be defended by a counsel of his choice, but he has no constitutional right to be prosecuted by prosecutors of his choice, the High Court was told yesterday.

Senior Federal Counsel See Mee Chun submitted that if the manner in which a trial was prosecuted was reviewable by the courts, then any accused person could make an application to disqualify any deputy public prosecutor (DPP) from prosecuting his case.

See, who was submitting in Anwar's leave application for a judicial review to disqualify the prosecutors in his sodomy trial, said this would create havoc in criminal trials as it would be adjourned pending applications to review the "suitability" of the DPP conducting the trial.

On Aug 11, the Parti Keadilan Rakyat's adviser filed an application for a judicial review to have the prosecution team comprising Solicitor-General 1 Datuk Idrus Harun, who was leading the prosecution team, Solicitor-General II Datuk Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden, and deputy public prosecutors — Datuk Nordin Hassan, Mohamad Hanafiah Zakaria, Wong Chiang Kiat, Shamsul Datuk Sulaiman and Noorin Badaruddin — disqualified.

Anwar also named the Attorney-General's Chambers and the government as respondents.

In March, Anwar, 62, claimed trial to sodomising his former personal aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, 24, at a condominium in Bukit Damansara between 3.01pm and 4.30pm on June 26 last year. Hearing is fixed for Nov 3.

See said as the application was to disqualify the respondents from conducting the trial, it was clearly an abuse of court process as it sought to undermine the Attorney General's power to conduct a criminal trial.

"How the A-G conducts the trial, such as the manner of prosecution by the seven prosecutors, is not reviewable by this court."

In reply, Anwar's counsel R. Sivarasa denied that they were trying to stop the criminal proceedings for a new team of prosecutors to take over.

"The A-G's Chambers has many other DPPs who are capable of handling the case. The application must not be misunderstood as stopping the prosecution. We are saying that the seven are tainted with bias," said Sivarasa.

In his application, Anwar claimed that the seven were not qualified to represent the A-G's Chambers to prosecute him and asked the court to order their removal or prohibit them from appearing in any proceeding that involved him.

He claimed that some of them had used false statements and evidence against him in his case in 1998, and there was prosecutorial misconduct by them in the present case which prejudiced his case.

Judge Datuk Alizatul Khair Osman Khairuddin fixed Sept 15 to decide if leave should be granted.