May 22, 2012
BERSIH3.0: Former S0licitor-General is Legal Council to Anwar Ibrahim
Former solicitor-general II Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden has raised eyebrows by representing Anwar Ibrahim on a Bersih 3.0-related charge, after having led the prosecution team against him in the Sodomy II trial.
Yusof (right), met after the court proceedings today, was asked if this would be seen as a personal battle between attorney-general (AG) Abdul Gani Patail and himself.
He responded that he has nothing personal against either Gani or the government in taking up the case.
“I am a professional. They called me last night and I am available and I have no hesitation. I do not have any political affiliation,” he said.
Asked if representing Anwar now would be seen as violating the oath of secrecy – which he had signed while in public service – he said he was still bound by the oath.
Yusof ranked third in seniority in the A-G’s Chambers – where he was the long-time head of prosecution – when he opted for retirement from February 1.
Senior defence lawyer Karpal Singh likened Yusof’s entry into Anwar’s defence team as “certainly a blow to the government”.
“We got to know late that he was willing to participate in the team and we welcome him. It could be a sign…,” Karpal said.
Sankara Nair, who is also in the defence team, pointed out that whatever Yusof was involved in previously, is in the past.
During the brief hearing in court earlier today, Yusof got things going with Karpal when he objected to the bail application. DPP Abdul Wahab Mohamad had sought RM10,000 for the alleged offence under the Peaceful Assembly Act.
However, Yusof told the court that, since 1998, Anwar has never missed attending a hearing. “He may be late sometimes, but he never misses the trial,” said Yusof.
Anwar welcomed Yusof’s participation in the defence team, disclosing that he had checked whether he was available and then contacted him.
“As you can see, (Yusof played) a role in the preliminary stage with Karpal, and is not here to make up the numbers.
“Yusof’s participation shows that he does not condone this … politically-motivated charge.
“There are many who are in the AG’s Chambers who hold the same view and are waiting for the right time to be with me.”
His willingness to join the defence team “is a clear perception that not all in the government condone” such action.
Anwar added that some have been of the view that Yusof should have been appointed the AG.
Yusof, a former magistrate and Sessions Court judge was the lead prosecutor in Anwar’s sodomy II trial. He took optional retirement in February after two earlier requests were rejected.
It was reported that in recent years, he and his charges were sidelined and this prompted many to leave the Attorney General Chambers.
Yusof himself had requested for optional retirement twice in 2007 and in 2009 but without success.
On both occasions his application was rejected, the last believed to be after an intervention from then-Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (left), who wanted Yusof to lead the prosecution team in the sodomy trial.
When Premier Najib Abdul Razak assumed power he asked Yusof to continue to lead the prosecution team in the trial.
Yusof inherited the Solicitor-general II post after his predecessor Zaleha Mohd Yusof was elevated to the Judiciary.