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PUTRAJAYA (Dec 7): The Court of Appeal (COA) said that it would issue a warrant of arrest against former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Tuesday (Dec 7) if he fails to turn up for online proceedings slated for the afternoon.

Najib, together with his lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, had not turned up in the court on Tuesday after they, on Monday night, informed the court that they both had been in close contact with a Covid-19 positive case.

The COA bench led by Justice Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil gave lawyer Harvinder Singh Sidhu who appeared for Najib alone an ultimatum, and said that if the proceedings do not go on on Tuesday afternoon, the court will cancel Najib’s bail and issue a warrant of arrest.

“You got two options. We cancel the bail and he (Najib) will be issued a warrant of arrest immediately and be brought to the court today (Tuesday) itself.

“The second choice — we direct that this is heard online, and this is the court direction. We don’t need consent from parties; we go online. This is more than safe. We have had cases online when people were in the US, France and Japan. This is in Malaysia. We have online facilities. We have this application for fresh evidence. When you make an application, you should have the facilities to prove them,” he told the lawyer.

Harvinder had asked the judge to have Zoom proceedings on Wednesday morning instead of Tuesday to get the lawyers for Najib ready, but the judge remained insistent.

“We will give time — at 12.30pm via Zoom. [Should there be] failure to follow, we will proceed with action. This is an instruction. If the lawyers can come for Zoom tomorrow (Wednesday) morning, they can come today (Tuesday),” he said.

Sitting with Justices Abdul Karim on the three-member panel were Justices Datuk Has Zanah Mehat and Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera.

Tuesday’s proceedings are in relation to an application filed by Najib on Dec 1 to adduce further oral evidence by calling Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki and former SRC International Sdn Bhd investigating officer Rosli Hussein.

This comes as the appellate court is scheduled to deliver its decision on Najib's appeal to set aside his conviction and 12-year jail term and RM210 million fine for the SRC offences on Wednesday morning.

Before the judge gave the ultimatum, he asked for Najib’s bailors, Alias Yahya and Faizal Shamsuddin, to face the court to answer for Najib’s absence. However, the judge was told that the bailors were not in attendance.

After a brief period, Faizal arrived, which led to Justice Abdul Karim grilling him.

“Where is Najib? The judge asked the man, who could not answer.

 “Your responsibility [as a bailor] is heavy. Your responsibility is to make sure he is in the court when he is supposed to be. Do you know why he is not here? Do you both know that there’s a trial today (Tuesday)?” the judge asked.

“This was already announced. You should have known. If we’re not satisfied, we can drop the bail [of RM2 million] and issue a warrant of arrest against Najib for his non-attendance,” Justice Abdul Karim spoke.

Visibly frustrated with the bailor's non-answer, the judge asked again: “You also don’t know? Where is he? In his house? This isn’t a coffee shop. Don’t just play. Do you know where Najib is?"

At this point, Harvinder interjected to say that Najib was self-isolating at home.

“This is not a situation where he lied and said it happened. This is what happened. They were in close contact. It is in the MySejahtera system that they (Najib and Shafee) were in close contact,” the lawyer said.

Justice Abdul Karim then told the lawyer that he wanted the case to be heard on Tuesday and that this is not up for debate as it is an instruction by the court.

“This is the instruction of the court. This has to be heard today (Tuesday). We will give time till 12.30pm. Failure to do so will [make us] proceed with action against Najib,” Justice Abdul Karim said.

The judge also reminded the defence that Wednesday’s decision will also go on as planned, pending the outcome of Tuesday afternoon’s bid to adduce additional evidence in the case.

Najib, 68, the Pekan Member of Parliament and a former Umno president, was convicted of all seven counts of charges in relation to SRC.

He was found guilty by the High Court on July 28 last year of abusing his power with regard to the approval for the RM4 billion loans given by Retirement Fund (Incorporated) (KWAP) between 2011 and 2012. Najib was also convicted of three counts each of criminal breach of trust and money laundering of RM42 million of SRC funds, which he received between Dec 26, 2014 and Feb 10, 2015.

For this, trial judge Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali sentenced him to 12 years in jail and a fine of RM210 million, which he is appealing against and has gotten a stay of the sentence.

Due to his appeal and stay of execution, Najib was slapped with a RM2 million bail amount in two sureties.

Edited BySurin Murugiah
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