Published: Wednesday July 15, 2009 MYT 9:48:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday July 15, 2009 MYT 11:53:00 AM
Anwar’s counsel Sulaiman Abdullah pulls out of defence team (Update)
By M.MAGESWARI and LISA GOH
Sodomy trial to start at 2pm after judge denies postponement
KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s lead counsel Sulaiman Abdullah has pulled out of the defence team in the sodomy trial citing health reasons.
Anwar told reporters at the High Court public gallery Wednesday that Sulaiman had discharged himself for all cases, for the time being.
He said Sulaiman had called him at 6pm Tuesday to inform him of his decision and told him that he did not wish to delay the sodomy case.
On July 8, the much awaited high profile sodomy trial of the PKR adviser was again delayed because Sulaiman had to extend his medical leave as he was in KL Hospital for observation.
Sulaiman is still warded for giddiness and is currently believed to be undergoing several tests.
"Sulaiman told me that he did not want to delay (my case) and did not want to compromise (anything). He is concerned about his health. He asked me to think of a new lead counsel," he said.
Anwar said it was sad news for him as Sulaiman had been committed in handling his case.
"We have great confidence in him," he said.
On March 10, Anwar had pleaded not guilty to sodomising his former personal aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, 24, at a condominium in Bukit Damansara here on June 26, last year.
Anwar added that both parties had met High Court judge Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah in his chambers to inform him of the development.
He said his team had applied to for time to get a new lead counsel but was refused by the judge.
Anwar said Justice Mohamad Zabidin fixed 2pm Wednesday to hear applications for Anwar to get certain documents for preparation of his sodomy trial.
"The judge felt that it was only technical and other lawyers could go on (to argue for his application)," he said.
Anwar said he would require at least a week or two to identify and hire a new lead counsel.
"You ask any lawyer in the legal fraternity, they will understand (over this). It is not that we want Sulaiman to be sick,' he said.
Anwar said he had no intention to delay the court proceedings but it was the prosecution that was dragging the trial by not providing him with even basic documents such as a full medical report by Pusrawi Hospital.
Anwar also said that he was adamant in his bid to disqualify the prosecution team to get a fair trial.
His lawyer, Sankara Nair said the team would try to persuade the judge again at 2pm to grant an adjournment.
Sankara said Anwar was entitled under Article 5 of the Federal Constitution to appoint a lawyer of his choice to conduct any case.
"It (the ruling to proceed to hear the application) is a violation of that provision and it has caused a lot of concern among us," Sankara said.
Sankara said Anwar wanted to appoint a new senior counsel who had over 30 years of experience to handle his team.
"It is a high profile case. My client wants a person with similar standing to conduct the case," he said.
On the written submissions which had been filed for Anwar's application to get the documents, Sankara said this: "It is a matter of reading out the submission. Sulaiman will expand on the argument better than the junior lawyers. None of us have more than 30 years experience."
Besides that, Sankara said a new senior lead counsel would need time to prepare for the sodomy case as it had serious implications.
"He will need to do research and he will require at least one or two weeks to prepare," he said.
Earlier, 20 reporters, who had queued up since 6.30am, were scanned by the police using metal detectors before being allowed to enter the courtroom at 8.25am.