By Shannon Teoh
KUALA LUMPUR, May 24 — Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail has denied allegations that he was at loggerheads with Datuk Yusof Zainal Abiden when the latter was Solicitor-General II.
The country’s top lawyer denied a rift had caused Yusof to join Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s legal team just four months after prosecuting the opposition leader for sodomy.
“He has told me several times he wanted to resign to pursue other goals including teaching and opening his own firm,” the Attorney-General was quoted as saying by Berita Harian today.
Abdul Gani (picture) also said Yusof will be “professional because of the training he received in the AGC (Attorney-General’s Chambers)” in defending Anwar who was charged with participating in an unlawful assembly under the Peaceful Assembly Act on Tuesday.
He pointed out that Yusof was still tied to a non-disclosure pledge from his time as a public prosecutor.
But Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders have questioned Yusof’s entry into the PKR de facto leader’s legal team, saying it raised doubt over the opposition chief’s acquittal of sodomy just four months ago in which the former government lawyer led the prosecution.
They told The Malaysian Insider that Yusof’s move was “unprofessional” as it damaged public perception of the trial which lasted two years and saw Pakatan Rakyat (PR) repeatedly claim that evidence had been tampered with.
But Anwar claimed a symbolic victory on Tuesday in having the former No. 3 in the Attorney-General’s Chambers join his defence against an illegal assembly charge, claiming that Yusof did not want to be a part of what he called the “dirtiness”.
The PKR de facto leader pointed out that if Yusof truly thought he was guilty, then the former solicitor-general, who only recently left the civil service, would not have agreed to join his legal team in the case related to the April 28 Bersih rally.
“Anwar called me last night and I had no hesitation,” Yusof told The Malaysian Insider when approached on Tuesday.
The Bar Council has pointed out that under the Legal Profession (Practice and Etiquette) Rules 1978, Yusof must accept any case in which he professes to practice at the proper professional fee dependent on the length and difficulty of the case, but special circumstances, including conflict of interest, may justify a refusal.
Anwar, PKR deputy president Azmin Ali and Rembau PKR chief Badrul Hisham Shaharin were charged on Tuesday with taking part in the April 28 Bersih 3.0 rally under section 4(2)(c) of the Peaceful Assembly Act, less than a month after the new law aimed at allowing public gatherings “in accordance with international norms” was enforced.
All three claimed trial to the offence under the Peaceful Assembly Act which carries a maximum fine of RM10,000.
Sessions Court judge Mahmud Abdullah set July 2 as the next mention date for the trial.