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Bar: Karpal fit to be counsel Print E-mail
Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The Star
By M. Mageswari

PETALING JAYA: There are no grounds for DAP chairman Karpal Singh to be called as a witness in the ongoing sodomy trial of Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the Bar Council said.

Its president Ragunath Kesavan said there was also no basis for misgivings regarding the legal and moral standing of the veteran lawyer to serve as a defence counsel in the trial.

“It is therefore mischievous of any party, let alone members of the Bar, to now intimate that Karpal should be disqualified on the basis of his access to so-called knowledge in the previous sodomy trial,” he said.

“The issues that have been raised in recent days might have been relevant in that earlier trial, had the then Public Prosecutor voiced any opposition to Karpal’s role as a potential prosecution witness, and his subsequent appearance as defence counsel.

“The lack of any such objection at that time makes it even more preposterous for any party to now cite such matters in respect of the ongoing trial,” Ragunath said in a statement yesterday.

He said he did not see any issues in Karpal Singh being the lead counsel in Anwar’s ongoing sodomy trial.

“There is no link with the Sodomy I (Anwar’s previous trial) and Sodomy Two (Anwar’s ongoing trial),” he said.

Ragunath said the Malaysian Bar reiterated that Karpal Singh, who is the DAP’s Bukit Gelugor MP, had contravened neither the Legal Profession Act 1976 nor rules of etiquette.

“The question of there being a breach of the existing rules and regulations dealing with ethical conduct of members of the legal profession does not arise in this case,” he pointed out.

The Bar, he said, called on all parties to allow the trial to proceed without unnecessary hindrance.

“Quite rightly, the Public Prosecutor has not subpoenaed Karpal to appear as a witness. Furthermore, no objections have been raised by any party to the case, including the court, on his role as Anwar’s counsel,” he added.

Ragunath said his statement related to recent remarks made against Karpal Singh as Anwar’s counsel in the ongoing sodomy trial.

Karpal Singh, when contacted, said he welcomed the statement for clarifying his role in Anwar’s sodomy case, saying “it is the actual position.”

Meanwhile, senior lawyer Roger Tan said it was for the courts and the disciplinary board to decide whether Karpal Singh was in breach of ethics, adding that the Bar Council should not prejudge the issue.

“It’s unacceptable to describe any member of the Bar raising the issue as mischievous,” he said in a tweet.

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