(FMT) – Former lawyer V K Lingam was sentenced to six months’ jail after he was found guilty of contempt for citing plagiarism in a Federal Court judgment five years ago.
A five-man apex court bench chaired by Abu Samah Nordin said the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.
“We have scrutinised the court papers and he is guilty of contempt of court,”Abu Samah said.
Lingam, who is barred from practice for professional misconduct, was absent from today’s proceeding. No lawyer was there to represent him, either.
He is currently believed to be in the United States of America.
Abu Samah said this was a fit and proper case for a custodial sentence to be imposed.
“A six month sentence is imposed from the date of the execution of the warrant of committal,” he said.
The bench, consisting of justice Ramly Ali, Azhar Mohamed, Balia Yusof Wahi and Jeffrey Tan Kok Hwa, however, declined to award costs of the contempt proceeding as requested by government lawyer Alice Loke Yee Ching.
Earlier, Loke in her submission said the contempt proceeding started in 2012 and Lingam had left the country the following year.
She said Lingam’s allegation was serious and grave against the court judgment.
“There was allegation of bias, incompetency which undermined public confidence in the judiciary,” she said.
She urged the court to impose a custodial sentence as Lingam did not offer any apology, except to ask for adjournment of his case.
“The respondent (Lingam ) drafted the affidavit that made the allegation. He was the author and others were his clients who signed the affidavit (for review),” she said.
She said the others who had been charged with contempt had been present in court earlier, and had pleaded guilty.
“They were present to seek the mercy of the court,” she added.
Lingam, who was implicated in a judicial fixing case by a royal commission of inquiry in 2007, has been skipping court since 2013 over the contempt charge.
In September, the court had made a finding of fact that Lingam’s medical report from a United States hospital was forged, but the former lawyer claimed the remark by the bench was unfair.
The contempt case came about when Lingam had appeared for clients, consisting of family members, in a civil suit.
Following a Federal Court decision in 2012 that went against his clients, Lingam filed a review of that ruling on grounds that the judgment was plagiarised.
Lingam, the 24 family members and another lawyer, T C Nayagam, were charged with contempt.
The family members were each fined RM100,000 while Nayagam was fined RM150,000 after they pleaded guilty to the charge.