AG says Najib raising issues to bog down RM42m SRC trial

Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya March 18, 2019.  ― Pictures by Firdaus Latif
Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya March 18, 2019. ― Pictures by Firdaus Latif

PUTRAJAYA, March 18 ― The Court of Appeal was told today Datuk Seri Najib Razak was allegedly using every opportunity to delay his corruption trial involving RM42 million from SRC International Sdn Bhd.

Attorney General (AG) Tommy Thomas, in his capacity as public prosecutor (PP), claimed this was patent from Najib’s challenge of High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali's decision to allow the AG’s withdrawal of certificates to transfer the case from the Sessions Court to the High Court.

“Both parties in this case had agreed that the case must be heard in the High Court and there was no quarrel on the matter.

“Their challenge to the public prosecutor's power in this appeal is unfounded and we pray that this appeal be dismissed,” he said during his submission.

Najib also appealed against Mohd Nazlan’s decision to transfer the case from the Sessions Court to himself in the High Court.

Thomas argued that the dispute was trivial as the matter still ultimately arrived at the High Court.

“The only question is the route taken to reach the destination at the High Court. That is all the fuss is about,” he said.

Thomas added that Mohd Nazlan could transfer cases to himself as Section 417(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code empowered judges to such transfers without a prior motion or request from the parties involved (suo motu) on one or more grounds under Section 417(1) of the CPC.

He further argued that Mohd Nazlan was already familiar with the case, having heard the preliminary matters and performed case management including fixing the trial dates.

“Since the judge had power to do what he did, the proceedings are not vitiated by suspected illegality. The transfer can be regularised as there is no breach of law,” he said.

Section 417 of the CPC outlined the High Court's power to transfer cases.

Attorney General Tommy Thomas arrives at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya March 18, 2019.
Attorney General Tommy Thomas arrives at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya March 18, 2019.

Today is the fourth day of hearing on the four appeals linked to Najib’s SRC International corruption trial initially fixed for February 12 to start, following the stay granted by Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal previously granted Najib’s request to stay or temporarily pause the trial on February 11, until the court decides the outcome of his appeal on the withdrawal of the transfer certificate.

Appellate court judge Datuk Zabariah Mohd Yusof, who led a three-member bench including Datuk Lau Bee Lan and Datuk Rhodzariah Bujang, presided over today’s hearing.

After Thomas's submission, Najib's lawyer Harvinderjit Singh then argued that the PP's attempt to issue certificates to transfer cases was similar to a backdoor application.

“It is as good as saying the PP can write a letter and ask the judge to act on its own initiative.

“The only way the matter can be brought to the attention of the judge by the PP is by way of a motion under Section 417(2) read together with Section 418 of the CPC,” he said.

Last week, Najib's lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah claimed that Mohd Nazlan could allegedly be seen as usurping the Chief Judge of Malaya’s powers to distribute and assign cases to High Court judges.

After hearing submissions from both parties, Zabariah then fixed March 21 to deliver the court's decision, along with three other appeals that were heard last week.

Since his charging in July last year, Najib’s lawyers have filed three applications, namely for a gag order to prevent public discussion of the trial (filed July 18), discovery of documents from the prosecution (filed on October 2) and also for the prosecution to produce Datuk Sulaiman Abdullah’s letter of appointment (filed on November 26).

The appellate court is also not the final venue for the disputes as dissatisfied parties may still appeal to the Federal Court.

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