Monday 22 Apr 2024
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PUTRAJAYA (July 29): Former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak's final appeal against his SRC International Sdn Bhd conviction and to adduce further evidence with regard to trial judge Justice Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali will proceed as scheduled at the Federal Court from Aug 15 to 26.

This is because the Federal Court has rejected a written application by Najib's new lawyers to adjourn the hearing after they took over the case from Shafee & Co, who had been discharged from representing the former premier.

The application was submitted on Tuesday, when the new team — led by lead counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik — notified the apex court of their appointments. Hisyam is assisted by Liew Teck Huat and Rueben Mathiavaranam, two lawyers from law firm Zaid Ibrahim Suflan TH Liew and Partners (ZIST).

While the Federal Court's deputy registrars — Wan Fatimah Zahara Wan Yussof and Siti Hajar Mustaffa — stressed during Friday's case management held via Zoom that the hearing dates would remain, they also said that Najib's new lawyers have indicated they would write in further to ask for an adjournment, and that if need be, will have the application heard before the apex court on Aug 15.

In attendance were Najib's new lawyers as well as his former counsels Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah and Rahmat Hazlan, while the prosecution was represented by ad-hoc prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram and deputy public prosecutor Mohd Ashrof Adrin Kamarul.

“The court has informed that the hearing dates fixed on Aug 15 to 26 are maintained and gave several instructions, which are to be followed,” those familiar with the case management said.

In seeking the adjournment, Najib's new solicitors highlighted that they only received the hardcopies of 162 volumes of the appeal records on Wednesday and that the digital copies of the same were not provided although Messrs Shafee & Co said they had sent them over earlier.

The new solicitors also claimed they were not able to match the digital copies with the hardcopies received, and so would need more time to go through the documents to prepare their submissions.

Messrs Shafee & Co, however, claimed they had delivered all hardcopies of the appeal records on July 27 and provided a bookmarked version digitally five days earlier, on July 22.

“The court is of the view that this matter should be handled between the previous counsel (solicitors) and the new counsel. All parties have been provided with the link to download all documents for the purpose of the hearing of this appeal,” the source added.

Additional affidavits filed to adduce further evidence

Najib's lawyers also raised the issue about an amendment to the motion to adduce fresh evidence on Justice Nazlan, saying they had filed two affidavits on Thursday (July 28) and that they intended to file another one before Aug 5 to re-emphasise the importance of the issues in their application.

“The court informed that the bid to adduce further evidence will be heard on Aug 15, together with the main appeal,” the source added.

While it is learnt that ZIST is considering seeking more time to file submissions and may submit a written application to the apex court for this, the deputy registrars have allowed the filing of submissions for fresh evidence to be extended until Aug 8 — which they have also fixed for another case management.

Meanwhile, the prosecution has indicated that if the defence could not file their submission by the previously agreed Sunday (July 31) deadline due to the change of counsels, then the prosecution would not be submitting on that date as well.

They argued that it would be best for both parties to file on the same date, so that the other party would have the same amount of time to put in their replies.

Hence, the prosecution asked the court to be allowed to file their submissions by Monday (Aug 1), should the court reject the defence's application for more submission time. On this, the deputy registrars told the prosecution to make a written application.

On July 28, 2020, Najib was found guilty by Justice Nazlan of all seven graft charges he faced in relation to SRC. They comprised one abuse of power charge in approving the Retirement Fund Inc's loan of RM4 billion to SRC between 2011 and 2012, and three counts each of criminal breach of trust (CBT) and money laundering involving RM42 million worth of SRC funds.

He was sentenced to 12 years' jail and fined RM210 million for the abuse of power charge, and 10 years' jail for each of the CBT and money laundering charges. The jail terms are to run concurrently.

The Court of Appeal upheld the conviction and sentence on Najib's appeal, and in a strongly-worded judgement described how the SRC, which started off as a national interest venture, had in the end become a national embarrassment.

Edited ByTan Choe Choe
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