Shafee seeks to disqualify Sri Ram as prosecutor in trial

(FMT) – Lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who has been charged with four counts of money laundering, today told the Sessions Court he will apply to disqualify ad-hoc deputy public prosecutor (DPP) Gopal Sri Ram from conducting the trial.

Shafee said he would not get a fair trial with Sri Ram leading the prosecution.

“I am giving notice now as I do not want to be accused of recusing him later as an afterthought,” he told judge Azura Alwi from the dock.

He said Sri Ram must be disqualified as he was the lawyer for PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim in a suit against the government.

Anwar last year filed a suit claiming he had been denied a fair trial in the Sodomy 2 case following allegations by whistleblower site Sarawak Report that Shafie was paid RM9.5 million from former prime minister Najib Razak’s private account.

“This is the same case where I am being charged and there is conflict of interest since Sri Ram is the prosecutor,” he said.

The High Court struck out Anwar’s suit and the case is scheduled to be heard on appeal before the Court of Appeal tomorrow.

Shafee also said his relationship with Sri Ram, first as lawyer and later as Court of Appeal judge, was “not pleasant”.

“We do not have a pleasant relationship. We pretend to be civil in court,” he added.

Sri Ram was a judge from September 1994 until January 2010 before he returned to private practice in 2013.

Shafee, who was once a DPP, said his relationship with Sri Ram first soured in a criminal breach of trust case that involved three Singapore millionaires.

“He was accused of tampering with evidence and a search was conducted in his office,” he said.

Shafee said he did not have a cordial relationship with Sri Ram then sitting as a judge in the Court of Appeal in at least two commercial cases.

In one of the cases, he was cited for contempt of court.

Shafee said there were also several attempts made to disqualify him when the government appointed him as ad hoc DPP in Anwar’s Sodomy 2 case in the Court of Appeal and Federal Court.

He said he would file a formal application soon to disqualify Sri Ram.

Sri Ram then stood up and said he would wait for the application and respond to Shafee’s allegations.