Najib seeks court directive on gag order against media, public

Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the court of appeal in Putrajaya March 11, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the court of appeal in Putrajaya March 11, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

PUTRAJAYA, March 11 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak wants a court directive to inform members of the public and media on what can and cannot be discussed and published pertaining to his criminal case involving SRC International Sdn Bhd funds, the Court of Appeal heard.

Lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said any statement made on the merits of his client’s (Najib’s) criminal case by the media or public, could be subjudice to his client.

He said the courts must protect the integrity of the judicial process in the country and not allow the public to discuss or make their own decisions in the case.

“The court must not allow the public to take over the court’s function,” he said when submitting in Najib’s appeal against the High Court’s decision on August 10, last year in dismissing his application for a gag order against the media and public from discussing the merits of his criminal cases.

“The court should issue the directives since the Attorney-General had said no one could force him to do it (issue an advisory),” Muhammad Shafee submitted before the Court of Appeal three-member panel.

Co-counsel Harvinderjit Singh cited a precedent case where a British court issued an outline for the media in the form of an advisory note.

He said no publication should assert or assume the guilt of a person involved in the case.

He said the High Court judge had dismissed Najib’s application for a gag order but in his judgment contained the directives sought by Najib.

He said the court should allow Najib’s appeal on amended terms as per directions mentioned in the High Court judge’s grounds of judgment.

Attorney General Tommy Thomas countered saying that Najib’s appeal was doomed to fail because the High Court did not make any error of facts and law.

He said one must read the High Court’s judgment as a whole and should not pick and choose certain paragraphs.

On July 4 last year, the 66-year old Pekan Member of Parliament was charged with three counts of criminal breach of trust and one charge of abusing his position over SRC International funds amounting to RM42 million.

On August 8 last year, Najib was charged with three counts of money laundering involving the same amount of money.

The panel comprising Justices Datuk Zabariah Mohd Yusof, Datuk Rhodzariah Bujang and Datuk Lau Bee Lan earlier today heard Najib’s appeal against the High Court’s dismissal of his challenge to the appointment of Datuk Sulaiman Abdullah (pic) as lead prosecutor and his appeal for discovery of documents and statements.

The court will resume tomorrow to hear the prosecution’s submission with regard to Najib’s appeal for discovery of documents.

Najib’s appeal against the High Court decision on February 7, this year to allow the prosecution to withdraw the certificate to transfer his case from the Sessions Court to the High Court, would also be heard tomorrow. — Bernama

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