Sunday 01 Oct 2023
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PUTRAJAYA (Jan 19): Newly minted Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Datuk Abdul Rahman Sebli is heading a five-member bench which is scheduled to hear former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s review on his conviction, 12-year imprisonment and RM210 million fine over SRC International Sdn Bhd at 9am on Thursday (Jan 19).

Abdul Rahman, 64, who took his oath on Tuesday, is sitting along with Federal Court judges Datuk Vernon Ong Lam Kiat, Datuk Rhodzhariah Bujang and Datuk Nordin Hassan, who is newly elevated, as well as Court of Appeal judge Datuk Abu Bakar Jais.

This review is basically the defence's final bid for the apex court to reconsider the decision of the previous bench — led by Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat — in upholding the High Court decision on July 28, 2020 and Court of Appeal verdict on Dec 8, 2021 that found Najib guilty and sentence.

A review can be held under Rule 137 of the Federal Court Rules 1995 to prevent an apparent injustice and possible abuse of the court process done by the previous bench in upholding the former PM’s conviction and sentence.

Should leave (permission) be granted on Jan 19 by the apex court bench, then the appeal proper would be reheard with the possibility of King’s Counsel Jonathan Laidlaw being pulled into the picture.

Najib's counsel Tan Sri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who has been re-appointed replacing Datuk Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, would first submit on the apparent injustice done by the previous bench.

Shafee and Najib have indicated there are four grounds for the review that they want the apex court to reconsider:

  • A review of the Federal Court’s earlier decision to reject the defence's application to adduce further evidence concerning the SRC trial judge, Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali
  • A review of the apex court's decision on the same day to dismiss Najib's bid to postpone his appeal hearing
  • A review of the court's decision on Aug 23 to reject Najib's application to recuse Tengku Maimun, and
  • A review of the Aug 23 decision by the five-member bench to affirm Najib’s conviction and sentence.

The prosecution, meanwhile, in an affidavit to respond to Najib’s application states the review had no merit and is considered an abuse of the court process, and that the former PM was given a fair trial and there was no pre-judgment in his appeal at the apex court last August.

As mentioned, the bench hearing the review must first be satisfied there was an injustice or a possible abuse of the court process in arriving at the Aug 23 decision being made. If the review is dismissed, then it is considered that the conviction and sentence are safe.

Ad-hoc prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram (Photo by Zahid Izzani Mohd Said/The Edge)

The prosecution will be led by ad-hoc prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram.

Najib was found guilty on all seven counts with regards to the SRC case.

He was found guilty on three counts of criminal breach of trust, another three counts of money laundering in relation to RM42 million of SRC funds between Dec 26, 2014 and Feb 10, 2015, and for one count of abuse of power with regards to approving the RM4 billion loan given by Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) to SRC — 1Malaysia Development Bhd's former subsidiary — between August 2011 and March 2012.

Edited BySurin Murugiah
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