Onus on prosecutors to prove authenticity of trial documents, says Najib’s lawyers

Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court January 20, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court January 20, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 20 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s lawyers today accused prosecutors of the SRC International Sdn Bhd RM42 million corruption trial of failing to prove the authenticity of documents tendered as evidence in court.

Najib’s lawyer, Harvinderjit Singh, told High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali how some of the documents tendered as evidence were photocopies without the actual copies being produced, nor its creators called in to testify to its production.

Harvinderjit mentioned these when submitting Najib’s application seeking the court to allow him to appoint and engage an external document examiner to scrutinise several disputed documents.

The application is seeking the external examiner to provide their findings over the authenticity of the disputed documents, and to determine if several of Najib’s signatures found on these documents were forged.

“These are documents that were tendered by witnesses who had sight of the documents and the prosecution, their case was based on these documents.

“So surely the onus of proof is on the person who tendered these documents, it was their case to prove these documents are authentic.

“The burden to prove, that fact remains on the prosecution,” said Harvinderjit.

The lawyer also pointed out how the trial has yet to see concrete evidence proving the disputed signatures found on these documents were indeed penned by Najib himself or was the act of forgery.

Harvinderjit also pointed out that since the disputed documents were meeting minutes from the Ministry of Finance (Incorporated) Department, the relevant officers from the section of the ministry should have been summoned to court to testify on its authenticity.

He also pointed out that only halfway during the trial did the defence find out the absence of several original copies of tendered documents, and the possibility of supposed forgery over Najib’s signatures.

“It was their (prosecution) case from day one that these documents are authentic and signed by the accused, but there is no evidence of authenticity.

“At the end of the case, your Lordship has to then ask, is your Lordship really convinced its authentic?

“All the applicant is asking is a way to prove to your Lordship, to provide some evidence to assist your Lordship in that,” said Harvinderjit.

Ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram meanwhile called the move to seek the views of an external expert as a tactical manoeuvre only meant to put the prosecution at a disadvantage.

“The application for an external expert is a floozy one on unsubstantiated grounds that is an afterthought.

“The defence has not disputed the seven exhibits when they were tendered and served,” he said in response.

Sithambaram also included how the defence had not raised the question of authenticity nor mentioned possible forgery during the prosecution stage despite given the opportunity.

“The documents were served before the trial commenced. Why are they now disputing the signatures after it was served, cross examined, and tendered.

“Suddenly a doubt has creeped into their mind on the authenticity of the signature as a result of a matter they discovered during the trial; they are trying to cloud the issue and we should not be clouded,” he submitted.

Najib is the first defence witness in this trial after the former prime minister was called to enter his defence to answer seven charges related to SRC International by judge Mohd Nazlan.

Three are for criminal breach of trust over a total RM42 million of SRC International funds while entrusted with its control as the prime minister and finance minister then, three more are for laundering the RM42 million, and the last is for abusing the same positions for self-gratification of the same sum.

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