By S.Tamarai Chelvi
KUALA LUMPUR (July 15, 2009) : Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's lead counsel Sulaiman Abdullah today discharged himself in the former's sodomy trial due to ill health.
Anwar who was present in the High Court for the hearing of an application to obtain several documents relating to his sodomy trial, said Sulaiman informed him at about 6pm on Tuesday that he was discharging himself from the case for the time being as he was still being hospitalised.
He said Sulaiman did not want the case to be delayed because of him and told him to discuss and find another lawyer to replace him.
"He had prepared himself very well and I have very much confident (in him)," said Anwar. (On July 8, the court was informed that Sulaiman was admitted to Kuala Lumpur Hospital on July 6 to undergo investigation for an episode of sudden giddiness.)
Lawyer S N Nair, who also represents Anwar said the defence team had asked for an adjournment to appoint a new senior counsel.
"This is a very 'high profile' case and Sulaiman has the experience, which is more than 30 years (as a lawyer) to handle the case. Anwar wants a person of similar stature to handle the case," said Nair.
However, Nair said the judge (Datuk Mohamad Zabidin Diah) rejected the request for adjournment and "told us to proceed with one of the lawyers. (Anwar is represented by nine lawyers, including Sulaiman.)
Nair said his "client has a right of choice" to have a lawyer to argue the case.
He said Article 5 of the Federal Constitution guarantees a litigant or a lawyer of his choice to conduct the trial.
Nair said they need time to appoint another lawyer with experiences such as Sulaiman, who is the most senior in the team.
He said senior counsels can expand on their arguments better than junior counsels.
He also said none of them have 30 years of experience.
Anwar is charged with sodomising Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, his former personal aide, in Desa Damansara Condominium, Jalan Setiakasih, Bukit Damansara, between 3.01pm and 4.30pm on June 26, last year.