KUALA LUMPUR, July 28 ― The defence led by lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah has asked for a deferment in mitigation proceedings, after Datuk Seri Najib Razak was found guilty today on all seven charges of misappropriating RM42 million from SRC International Sdn Bhd.
Najib was earlier convicted by the High Court for abuse of power, money laundering and criminal breach of trust charges.
Mitigation is a procedure involving seeking for the court to impose a lesser or reduced sentence on the convicted individual.
Subsequent to a mitigation, the prosecution can typically also ask for harsher sentences or penalties to be meted out on the accused.
Shafee claimed that the defence needed time to prepare for the “biggest case in the world, and sought to assure the court of his client's attendance since the country was in 'lockdown'” ― presumably referring to the movement control order.
He also said there will be no prejudice to anyone except Najib if the mitigation is not deferred to next week.
“We cannot do a complete mitigation without clear instruction from our client,” Shafee said, adding that he was seeking a stay of conviction and has never conducted any mitigation hearing 'in less than two hours time'.
The lawyer also argued that his client had posted about RM6 million in bail for a total of four other criminal trials against him.
Ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram however pointed out that there has not been instances where purported “stay of conviction” had actually taken place.
Instead, Sithambaram said the prosecution was prepared to mitigate the appropriate sentence to the convicted.
However, High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali subsequently said he was not convinced by the defence’s argument and ordered them to submit proof of their argument when court resumes at 2pm.
Najib was earlier not allowed to leave the court compound during the recess as he was now no longer an accused but a convict.
Following a recess, Shafee further argued that Najib posed no flight risk to abscond and therefore implored the court to consider its decision to maintain bail.
“As a former prime minister, he has a police escort. The police will always police. If he attempts to abscond, they will inform the IGP immediately,” Shafee said.
Sithambaram then informed the court that the prosecution wished to object to the adjournment and therefore wish to proceed to the sentencing, citing Section 183 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).
It is clearly states that the court is duty-bound to pass a sentence upon conviction under Section 183 of the CPC, Sithambaram pointed out.
After hearing both submissions, Mohd Nazlan dismissed the postponement application citing the reasons Najib had provided was not valid and subsequently ordered for mitigation hearing to proceed as usual.
The learned judge also informed both parties that he wished not to set a precedent.