MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Friday, August 19, 2022

Najib’s SRC International appeal: A quick timeline


Najib Razak’s final appeal to the Federal Court against his conviction and sentence in the SRC International corruption trial continues.

PETALING JAYA: More bombshell news can be expected to break later this morning, but for now, here is a quick recap of the SRC International corruption case thus far.

Najib Razak, Malaysia’s sixth prime minister, who held the post for more than nine years from 2009 to 2018, and whose government was unseated at the 14th general election after failing to arrest the backlash from the 1MDB debacle, was arrested on July 3, 2018.

He was charged in the Kuala Lumpur sessions court the following day on three counts of criminal breach of trust and one count of abuse of power in relation to the misappropriation of RM42 million in funds belonging to SRC International, then an 1MDB subsidiary.

He was slapped with a further three money laundering charges on Aug 8 that year.

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After a 79-day trial held between April 3, 2019 and March 11, 2020, which saw 86 witnesses testify, Najib was on July 28, 2020, convicted by trial judge Nazlan Ghazali of all charges and sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment and a RM210 million fine. Nazlan later released an 801-page judgment explaining his decision.

Najib appealed to the Court of Appeal from that decision, and on Dec 8 last year, after a 15-day hearing, a three-member panel in the Court of Appeal comprising judges Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil, Has Zanah Mehat and Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera unanimously upheld both the conviction and sentence passed by the High Court. Their grounds are contained in a 317-page written judgment.

Najib filed an appeal to the Federal Court on the same day, and on April 25 this year filed a petition of appeal citing 94 matters which he claims were errors of law and fact made by the appellant court in its judgment. Shortly thereafter, the Federal Court fixed the former prime minister’s appeal for hearing from Aug 15 to 26.

On May 31, UK lawyer Jonathan Laidlaw, QC, applied to the Kuala Lumpur High Court for ad hoc admission to enable him to argue the appeal at the Federal Court on Najib’s behalf. That application was rejected on July 21.

In the meantime, on June 10, Najib filed a motion to adduce fresh evidence to show Nazlan ought to have recused himself due to a serious conflict of interest which breached his right to a fair trial. Najib sought a retrial of the case before another High Court judge.

On July 25, for reasons which he explained in a media statement issued yesterday, Najib appointed the law firm Zaid Ibrahim Suflan TH Liew & Partners as his solicitors in place of Shafee & Co, with Hisyam Teh Poh Teik replacing Shafee Abdullah as lead counsel.

The following day, his new solicitors wrote to the Federal Court seeking an adjournment of the appeal, which by now was a mere three weeks away. The request was rejected by the apex court both in writing and at case management three days later.

The motion to admit fresh evidence was heard on Monday and Tuesday morning this week. On Tuesday afternoon, the apex court unanimously dismissed the motion.

Hisyam then applied to postpone the hearing of the appeal, but that application was rejected by the Federal Court late on Tuesday. At a press conference held immediately after proceedings ended that day, Najib, Hisyam and co-counsel Zaid Ibrahim expressed their disappointment at the position taken by the court.

When the case came up for hearing yesterday, Hisyam, who was due to present his arguments, apologised to the court and applied to discharge himself as lead counsel. That application was rejected by the apex court, and lead counsel and his team were told to remain in court and continue to represent Najib.

As Hisyam was unable to submit orally, Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat asked whether he wished to rely on written submissions filed by the previous solicitors in the lower courts. Hisyam agreed to do so.

The chief justice then invited ad hoc prosecutor V Sithambaram to present the respondent’s submissions.

After lunch, Hisyam told the court he intended to file “fresh written submissions”.

After proceedings ended for the day, Najib and Hisyam convened a joint press conference at which Najib recorded his objection to the manner in which the proceedings were carried out “in the strongest of terms”, adding that he was effectively left without legal representation with his “rights to life, liberty and right to a fair hearing are at stake”.

The former prime minister then followed this up with a media statement later in the evening.

The prosecution is expected to continue its submissions when court sits this morning.

Sitting together with Tengku Maimun are Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim, and apex court judges Nallini Pathmanathan, Mary Lim and Mohamad Zabidin Diah.

Najib’s legal team also includes lawyers Liew Teck Huat and Ruben Mathiavarnam.

Sithambaram, who is prosecuting under a special licence issued by the attorney-general, is assisted by Donald Joseph Franklin, Sulaiman Kho Kheng Fuei and Mohd Ashrof Adrin Kamarul. - FMT

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