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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

High Court to hear AG’s move to appoint Sri Ram as ad hoc prosecutor

PUTRAJAYA: The High Court will have to decide whether Attorney-General (AG) Tommy Thomas was correct in appointing senior lawyer Gopal Sri Ram as ad hoc deputy public prosecutor (DPP) in criminal cases involving former prime minister Najib Razak.
This follows the Federal Court’s unanimous decision today refusing the AG leave to appeal against a Court of Appeal ruling.
“The threshold for leave under Section 96 of the Courts of Judicature Act has not been met,” said Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat who led a three-member bench.
Others on the panel were Mohamed Zawawi Salleh and Idrus Harun.
Tengku Maimun said they were satisfied with the Court of Appeal finding that a criminal motion and judicial review on Sri Ram’s appointment are distinct and different.
“Therefore, the issue of res judicata (that the matter has been decided) and abuse of process does not arise,” she said.
High Court judge Mariana Yahya is scheduled to hear on Oct 25 the judicial review filed by Najib and lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.
On Aug 26, a three-member Court of Appeal bench led by Hasnah Mohamed Hashim said there was merit in the appeals by Najib and Shafee for leave to be granted in their judicial review applications.
Ten days earlier, Tengku Maimun, who led a seven-member bench, had dismissed a criminal motion filed by Najib to stop Sri Ram from prosecuting in the 1MDB case, holding that the ex-judge could lead the prosecution team in any criminal case assigned to him.
Najib and Shafee are challenging the AG’s decision to appoint Sri Ram as deputy public prosecutor under Section 376 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Shafee said the provision is only applicable to DPPs who are civil servants and who come under the judicial and legal service.
Sri Ram and another lawyer, Sulaiman Abdullah, were appointed by Thomas as DPPs in the 1MDB and SRC International Sdn Bhd cases last year.
Sri Ram has also been tasked with leading the prosecution in the International Petroleum Investment Co case involving Najib and former Treasury secretary-general Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah.
The former Federal Court judge is also tasked with prosecuting Shafee in a RM9.5 million money laundering case.
He is charged with two counts of receiving proceeds amounting to RM9.5 million from unlawful activities from Najib and two counts of making false declarations to the Inland Revenue Board.
Sri Ram is currently leading the prosecution team in the 1MDB case where Najib is standing trial on 25 money laundering and abuse of power charges amounting to RM2.28 billion.
Speaking to reporters after today’s apex court decision, Shafee, who appeared for Najib, said he would not apply to suspend the 1MDB trial.
“If we win in the judicial review proceeding, the 1MDB trial will be declared a nullity,” he said.
Lawyer Harvinderjit Singh represented Shafee while federal counsel Alice Loke and Shamsul Bolhassan represented the AG. - FMT

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