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When ex-CJ, former AG turn witnesses in court

Kuala Lumpur – To say that the “tables have turned” would be too extreme to describe the attendance of two legal minds in the Kuala Lumpur Courts last week – albeit in the witness box.

Nevertheless, former Chief Justice (CJ) Tun Zaki Azmi, 76, and former Federal Court judge and former Attorney-General (AG) Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali, 71, did just that – giving evidence from the witness box, the former as a witness and the latter as a plaintiff, in separate trials.

The two men, who have sat on the bench on numerous occasions, shared their experience of testifying from the witness box.

Zaki, who was the CJ for three years from 2008, laughed when asked whether he felt nervous testifying before a judge for the first time as a witness.

“No, not nervous, but I was a little anxious. As a judge, I was used to sitting on the bench. As a counsel, I was used to sitting where the lawyers usually sit.

“However, last Wednesday, I sat in the witness box,” said Zaki, who was a practicing lawyer before being appointed as a Federal Court judge in September 2007, the first such direct appointment in Malaysian judicial history.

Zaki said it was an interesting experience as well as a historic moment for him to be testifying in court.

“My first attendance in court was in 1987 when I was a lawyer. Last week, I attended court as a witness,” he said.

“It was an interesting and great experience waiting in the witness room with the other witnesses before being called to testify. As the former CJ in Malaysia and (as a CJ in) Dubai, it was a historic moment for me,” he said.

Zaki added it was a story not many judges or lawyers could tell their grandchildren.

In November 2018, Zaki made headlines after he was appointed as the Chief Justice of the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts (DIFC) which deals with civil and commercial disputes in Dubai, one of the world’s leading financial centres.

Last Wednesday, Zaki was the sixth prosecution witness in the Sessions Court in the trial of former Sabah Infrastructure Development Minister Datuk Peter Anthony who is facing charges of using false documents relating to a system maintenance contract.

He testified in his capacity as the chairman of the Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) board of directors from April 3, 2013 to July 31, 2018.

Apandi, who is now a practising lawyer, was a Federal Court judge prior to his appointment as the AG in 2015.

He said it was his first time testifying in court and regarded it as a great experience.

“I did not feel nervous because the courts have been my playground. I am used to attending court every day. I am used to seeing witnesses take their oath and give evidence. I was calm and cool when I testified,” he said.

Mohamed Apandi, who was the AG from July 27, 2015 to June 4, 2018, testified in the trial of his defamation suit against DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang before High Court Judge Datuk Azimah Omar. – Bernama

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