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Friday, March 31, 2023

‘Najib can try 2nd SRC review’ – lawyers


Can Najib Abdul Razak mount a second review application to set aside his conviction and sentencing in the RM42 million SRC International corruption case?

According to several lawyers Malaysiakini spoke to, the law does allow a person to file a second review bid.

Lawyer Ramesh NP Chandran said that while there are no provisions for a second review of a Federal Court’s decision in Malaysia, parties may apply for a second review in “limited circumstances”.

He pointed out that Rule 137 of the Rules of the Federal Court 1995 does not limit the Federal Court from hearing “any” application, as the provision recognises the apex court’s inherent power to review previous apex court decisions to prevent injustice or abuse of process.

Ramesh noted that an applicant for any such second review bid must show a substantial serious miscarriage of justice, such as evidence of court bias or that the court completely failed to understand a legal point raised during the first review hearing.

Lawyer Ng See Teong, however, cautioned that any such second review bid has a slim chance of winning, pointing out that in the present SRC International case, one judge from the High Court in Kuala Lumpur, three Court of Appeal judges, and nine apex court judges have already made adverse rulings against the former prime minister.

‘Finality is needed’

Hailing from Jerantut, Pahang, the criminal lawyer, noted that Najib would find difficulty trying to find another apex court quorum to hear any second review bid as there are very few Federal Court judges left who could potentially hear it.

“However, there must be finality (to a case before the judiciary),” Ng said.

Meanwhile, lawyer Mohd Haniff Khatri Abdulla took a different view, saying that there is no such thing as a review on a review, such as a proposed second review against today’s Federal Court decision in a 4-1 majority verdict dismissing Najib’s review application.

“Even though he (Najib) may want to try, that is the end of the SRC International case when it comes to court.

“The only thing left for him is to pursue a pardon from the Pardons Board,” the lawyer said.

Mohd Haniff Khatri Abdulla

Today, the possibility of a second review was ignited following today’s apex court verdict on the SRC International case, with deputy public prosecutor V Sithambaram saying it is possible for Najib to try again.

Lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah reportedly said the dissenting judgement from bench chairperson, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Abdul Rahman Sebli, opened a new avenue for Najib.

However, the majority verdict - by other bench members - Federal Court judges Vernon Ong Lam Kiat, Rhodzariah Bujang and Nordin Hassan as well as Court of Appeal judge Abu Bakar Jais - will take effect instead in denying the review bid.

This verdict is in line with a previous decision on Aug 23 last year by a different Federal Court bench chaired by Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat to uphold Najib's guilty verdict as well as a 12-year jail sentence and RM210 million fine in the graft case.

The former Pekan MP also has three other pending criminal court cases - namely the RM2.28 billion 1MDB corruption trial, a separate SRC International money laundering case involving RM27 million, and an RM6.6 billion International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) criminal breach of trust case.

However, in his only legal victory so far against a criminal matter, the former prime minister was granted a full acquittal in the 1MDB audit report case. The prosecution has appealed to the Court of Appeal to reverse this outcome.

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

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