KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 23 — The Malaysian Bar president Salim Bashir said the transfer of judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali who convicted former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak last year is a “normal” matter.
Free Malaysia Today (FMT), quotes Salim who said that there was nothing wrong with the transfer of judges from court to court as it is up to the Chief Justice of Malaysia (CJM).
“It’s a normal administrative transfer. The judge is required to finish off his part-heard matters before his transfer date, and if he cannot, then he will need to report to the CJM (Chief Judge of Malaysia) on the status of the part-heard cases for further direction.
“If the matter is before him and it is part-heard, he needs to speed up hearings on all such matters before the March transfer order,” he reportedly told FMT.
FMT also quoted an unnamed retired judge, stating that sometimes judges themselves make such requests as they want a “change of experience”.
Nazlan was transferred to the criminal court from the commercial division in Aug 2018 taking over Najib’s case from previous judge Justice Mohd Sofian Abd Razak.
Sofian had recused himself from the case after the Malaysian Bar requested it as his brother Pahang state executive councillor and Benta Umno state assemblyman Datuk Seri Mohd Soffi Abdul Razak.
Najib today also reacted to Nazlan’s transfer on his Facebook page.
“That’s right. He was appointed as a judge of the Civil High Court on 30 January 2017.
“A year later, he was suddenly transferred from the Civil Court by the newly appointed chief justice of the week by PH (Pakatan Harapan) to the Criminal Court to replace another judge even though the SRC case was already underway and became his first high court criminal case.
“Now he is being transferred back to civil court,” he posted today.
Nazlan is also presiding over Najib and former treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah ongoing criminal breach of trust (CBT) case which is slated to begin in September.
The duo is facing six counts of CBT involving RM6.6 billion.
Nazlan is also set to deliver a decision on former Felda chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Samad on February 3.
Isa was charged with nine counts of gratification for himself in cash totalling RM3,090,000 from Ikhwan Zaidel, who is a board member of Gegasan Abadi Properties Sdn Bhd (the company which previously owned MPHS), through Muhammad Zahid for helping to approve the purchase of the hotel by Felda Investment Corp Sdn Bhd (FIC), a subsidiary of Felda.
In a circular issued by the Bar Council to all members of the Bar yesterday, Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed directed the transfer of Nazlan from the Kuala Lumpur High Court (Criminal 3) to Kuala Lumpur High Court (NCvC 2), effective March 1.
“The Chief Judge of Malaya, Azahar Mohamed, has extended to us a copy of a directive for change (pertukaran) His Honourable Judge of the High Court of Malaya Bil 2/2021.
“Please be informed that the following placement will take effect on March 1, 2021 (Monday),” said the circular which was provided yesterday.
On July 28 last year, Nazlan sentenced Najib a total of 72 years of prison sentence.
On the abuse of power offence, the accused was slapped with a 12-year jail term and fined RM210 million. For the three criminal breach of trust charges, the jail term is 10 years for each offence, and for the three money laundering charges, the jail term is 10 years for each offence. No fines were imposed for the money laundering charges.
However, the former premier would only have to serve 12 years in prison as the judge ordered that the sentences run concurrently.
In the event of a default on the RM210 million fine — which is five times the RM42 million in gratification received by Najib — he would be jailed five more years.
However, Najib’s defence succeeded in obtaining a stay of execution of the sentences, pending disposal of an appeal at the Court of Appeal.