G25: Judge in Najib's case should have disclosed brother's Pahang Umno ties

Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex, July 4, 2018. G25 said today it fully supports calls for the High Court judge in Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s two criminal cases to remove himself from hearing them due to alleged family ties to a Pahang Umno official. — Reuters pic
Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex, July 4, 2018. G25 said today it fully supports calls for the High Court judge in Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s two criminal cases to remove himself from hearing them due to alleged family ties to a Pahang Umno official. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 — G25 said today it fully supports calls for the High Court judge in Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s two criminal cases to remove himself from hearing them due to alleged family ties to a Pahang Umno official.

The pro-moderation group pointed out that the onus was on judge Datuk Mohd Sofian Abd Razak to have disclosed this crucial bit of information prior to the hearing.

“Judicial precedents have established that a judge must disclose any kind of connection in a case before him to all parties at the outset and should let the parties decide whether to ask him to recuse or not.

“The judge in this case did not do so. With respect, we are of the view that this is highly inappropriate,” G25 said in a statement this evening.

“Given that the former prime minister was until recently the president of Umno and chairman of Barisan Nasional and is himself a member of Parliament from Pahang, the judge ought to have disclosed his relationship to his brother and the latter’s position in Umno and the Pahang state government to the prosecution and the defence prior to the hearing,” the group added.

G25 said it echoed George Varughese, president of the Malaysian Bar’s concern over the matter.

George had expressed concern over Mohd Sofian reportedly being the younger brother of Pahang state executive councillor and Benta state assemblyman Datuk Seri Mohd Soffi Abd Razak. The latter is reportedly from Umno.

George had said it was necessary for Mohd Sofian to make such a disclosure “to preserve the integrity of the proceedings before him and to avoid any real danger of bias”.

On Wednesday, Najib, who is Pekan MP, pleaded not guilty at the Kuala Lumpur High Court to three counts of criminal breach of trust as a public servant and one count of abusing his position for self-gratification of RM42 million of funds belonging to a former 1Malaysia Development Berhad unit, SRC International Sdn Bhd.

The next case management date is August 8.

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