Court grants ex-DPP Shamsul Sulaiman immunity from prosecution in lawyer’s suit against MACC.
Stunning circumstances formed the basis on which former Deputy Public Prosecutor Shamsul Sulaiman gave evidence in court yesterday in the on-going trial of Rosli Dahlan’s suit against the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency (MACC) and the Government of Malaysia. Free Malaysia Today which is actively reporting this, provides an interesting read:
The case is being heard before Justice Su Geok Yiam in the Kuala Lumpur High Court.
Addressing his concern that his evidence may be self-incriminatory, Shamsul told the presiding judge, “I am now concerned after testifying in court [that] my statement will be used against me.”
Section 132(1) of the Evidence Act, 1950 provides that a witness is not excused from answering questions on the ground that the answers will incriminate him.
The Court, however, exercised its power under section 132(2) to compel Shamsul to answer, thereby granting him immunity from arrest or prosecution in respect of the content of his evidence.
During his testimony, Shamsul told the Court that Rosli and he were good friends from their days together at the International Islamic University and that the relationship had continued throughout their working careers.
He said that upon being issued with notices to declare his assets, Rosli discussed the matter with him, raising various issues which troubled him about the contents and effect of the notices.
Shamsul said that he sought clarification on the notices with DPP Anthony Kevin Morais, who issued the notices, and Nordin Hassan the then head of ACA’s prosecution unit.
“I was advised to stay away from the case as they were taking orders directly from the Attorney-General,” his witness statement read.
“I kept my peace within Chambers from then on, all the while disappointed that senior officers of the organisation which I was serving for so long did not behave in what I thought should be the professional way we ought to.”
He went on to testify that two days before Hari Raya in 2007, he received two calls from Rosli. In the first call Rosli informed him that ACA officers had turned up requesting that he accompany them to their office to record a statement.
“He told me that he managed to negotiate with the officers to postpone the recording of the statement….., but at the back of his mind he was concerned and had the feeling that the officers would come back to arrest him.”
“A couple of hours later, Rosli called me again in a very short and anxious call to tell me that the ACA officers were back and had announced to his office that they were looking for him to arrest him,” his statement went on.
According to Shamsul, he later found out that Rosli had been arrested that day and made arrangements to be present with Rosli’s wife at the ACA headquarters that night.
Upon arriving at the ACA office, Shamsul joined Rosli’s wife and two other lawyers, Chetan and Harvey.
“We just waited.
“As we waited, I telephoned DPP Anthony Kevin Morais who told me that the investigators were going to let Rosli go once they finished recording his statement.
“Time passed slowly. As midnight approached we saw officers leaving and we thought our wait would be over soon. The officers left quite hurriedly and it seemed to me that they were avoiding us,” Shamsul testified further.
Calls to enquire went unanswered and security guards at the front desk were unhelpful.
“We received no cooperation from them except to be told that we should just leave,” he added.
They eventually did.
The next morning, he was surprised to find that Rosli had been brought by ACA to the courtroom via the public corridor instead of through the lock-up lifts system.
Noting that they had opted not to access the courtroom via the complex’s more private passageways as would usually be done in criminal cases, he added, “I have come to learn that the ACA are in the habit of parading the persons whom they prosecute, having tipped off the media who will turn up in full force.”
The next day, on Hari Raya morning, the newspapers carried news of Rosli being charged with large photographs on their front pages.
“I felt outraged at what I thought was unfair timing of (their) action,” he testified.
He said that the whole experience had made Rosli a bitter, lethargic and dejected man who had lost confidence in the legal system to the extent of wanting to cease practice.
“Although he spoke well of his firm and partners throughout the ordeal, I sensed the pressure that Rosli’s prosecution had brought on the firm and I thought there almost came a time when [his] firm saw him as a liability,” he added.
Shamsul testified that he was in Court when Rosli was acquitted.
The Sessions Court had ruled that he was not Ramli’s associate and was not within the category of persons who were required to declare their assets, he added.
These were the very questions for which Rosli had sought clarification from the ACA in the first place, Shamsul claimed.
He said that subsequently, MACC’s Director of Prosecutions Abdul Razak Musa sought his help to contact Rosli discreetly to set up a meeting to explore a possibility of settling Rosli’s suit. A meeting was eventually held between the two in Shamsul’s presence but no deal was struck, he testified.
He said that the prosecution’s appeal against Rosli’s acquittal was eventually withdrawn on the morning of the hearing.
“It was hard to see a close friend suffer at the hands of people whom I consider also friends,” Shamsul said in his Witness Statement.
“MACC can be overzealous to the extent of behaving unprofessionally,” he added.
Under cross-examination by MACC’s counsel Cecil Abraham, Shamsul denied that his role in the episode placed him in a position of conflict of interest.
The trial continues.