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Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Najib's defence team expected to wrap up submissions


The Federal Court hearing of Najib Abdul Razak’s review application to quash his guilty verdict and sentence in the RM42 million SRC International corruption case enters the sixth day.

The five-person Federal Court bench, headed by Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Abdul Rahman Sebli, is expected to continue hearing rebuttal submissions from lead deputy public prosecutor, V Sithambaram today.

We bring you the reports of the proceedings from time to time.

Apex court hearing resumes

9.51am: Former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak enters the dock as the Federal Court proceedings begin.

Lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah is expected to resume his oral submissions.

Najib in court

9.30am: Former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak is seen seated in the public gallery and surrounded by a group of Kajang Prison officers, awaiting the apex court hearing to begin.

When the proceedings begin, Najib, clad in a blue suit and tie, would enter the dock.

Shafee enters apex court

9.10am: Lead defence counsel, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah enters the Federal Court to await for proceedings to begin.

Yesterday, the five-person Federal Court bench chaired by Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Abdul Rahman Sebli directed for proceedings to begin around 9.30am today.

Prosecution, defence teams arrive in court

9am: Deputy public prosecutor V Sithambaram and other members of the prosecution team are seen in the apex court, waiting for proceedings to begin.

Deputy public prosecutor V Sithambaram

Also seen in court are defence counsel Muhammad Farhan Muhammad and other members of the defence team.

Najib Abdul Razak’s legal team is expected to wrap up oral submissions as the apex court hearing of the former prime minister’s review application in his RM42 million SRC International corruption case enters the sixth day today.

Lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah would continue where he left off yesterday, namely that the previous Federal Court bench, chaired by Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, wrongly blamed Najib over last year’s change of counsel prior to the hearing of the SRC appeal, among other arguments.

Among the grounds for the review bid was that the Tengku Maimun-led panel last year did not allow an application by Najib’s then legal team - comprised of Hisyam Teh Poh Teik and counsel from Zaid Ibrahim’s law firm - for an adjournment of the appeal hearing so they could be properly prepared to argue the appeal.

Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat

Prior to the Federal Court hearing on Najib’s appeal in August last year, Najib had switched legal teams from Shafee to the then new batch of lawyers for his appeal in the case involving one count of abuse of power, three counts of criminal breach of trust, and three money-laundering charges linked to RM42 million of funds from SRC International.

On Aug 23 last year, the Federal Court bench chaired by Tengku Maimun dismissed Najib’s appeal and upheld his guilty verdict and 12-year jail sentence as well as the RM210 million fine.

Presently hearing the review is a five-person apex bench chaired by Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Abdul Rahman Sebli, and is comprised of Federal Court judges Vernon Ong Lam Kiat, Rhodzariah Bujang, and Nordin Hassan, as well as Court of Appeal judge Abu Bakar Jais.

In the event that Shafee manages to wrap up oral submissions, the Federal Court could either make a decision later today or set another date to deliver the verdict on the review.

Incarcerated at the Kajang Prison, Najib is also pursuing other avenues outside the judiciary, namely a petition for royal pardon as well as a petition before the United Nations over his alleged arbitrary detention.

Through the present review application, Najib contends that trial judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, who has since been elevated from the Kuala Lumpur High Court to the Court of Appeal, was in a conflict of interest when he heard and decided on the SRC International case in 2020.

Najib alleged, among others, that the judge was aware that it was Maybank Investment (an entity of Maybank Group) and BinaFikir (another entity of Maybank Group) that provided the advice to the sovereign wealth fund 1MDB in the matters pertaining to the setting up of SRC International.

Najib alleged that the conflict of interest arose due to Nazlan’s previous role as general counsel with Maybank.

Initially a subsidiary of 1MDB, SRC International later became fully owned by the Minister of Finance Incorporated (MoF Inc). 1MDB is also fully owned by MoF Inc.

Among the possible outcomes of the review is Najib getting a full acquittal, having his appeal heard again by a different apex court bench, or that he gets a retrial of the SRC International case before a new High Court judge.

Besides targeting the previous apex court decision to uphold Najib’s SRC International conviction and sentencing, the former prime minister’s review also targets the previous panel’s three other decisions.

These are the decisions to deny his bid to adduce additional evidence to strengthen the allegations against Nazlan, to reject his bid to postpone the appeal hearing, and to deny his application to recuse Tengku Maimun over the alleged conflict of interest. - Mkini

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