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Malaysia lawyer denies accusations of judicial corruption

[JURIST] The Malaysian lawyer whose 2001 video [Malaysian Bar Council report and streaming video] of a deal over a judicial appointment has sparked accusations and investigations into judicial corruption, claimed Monday he must have been intoxicated when he appeared to be arranging for the appointment of "friendly" senior judges. V.K. Lingam told an official inquiry that he "must have had one too many drinks" in the video which apparently shows him on the phone with someone who is believed to be former Malaysian Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim [Wikipedia profile] brokering Halim's appointment to become chief justice with the help of a tycoon and a politician. At the time of the video in December 2001, Halim was Malaysia's third-ranking judge but served as chief justice from 2003 to 2007. Lingam also would not confirm or deny he was the man in the video and has rejected claims that he conspired to rig judicial appointments.

The inquiry has produced evidence of a close and sometimes dubious relationship between the Malaysian judiciary and lawyers, politicians and businessmen. In September 2007, approximately 2,000 lawyers and activists, led by the Malaysian Bar Council [profession website], held a large protest [press release; JURIST report] in Malaysia's capital, calling for an investigation into judicial corruption. In November, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi [official profile] announced that a Royal Commission would be set up to investigate the matter. AP has more. The International Herald Tribune has additional coverage.

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