Appeals Court reprimands Shafee for criticising Najib’s SRC trial judge as ‘hopelessly incompetent’, ‘poisoned judgment’ in conviction ruling

Lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah arrives at the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya April 6, 2021. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah arrives at the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya April 6, 2021. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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PUTRAJAYA, April 6 — The Court of Appeal today reprimanded lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah for using inappropriate words to criticise High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali who found Datuk Seri Najib Razak guilty of misappropriating RM42 million of SRC International Sdn Bhd funds.

Court of Appeal judge Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil, who is chairing a three-member panel, then asked Shafee if he could be more courteous in his choice of words to describe the shortcomings in Mohd Nazlan’s judgment against Najib.

Shafee had earlier appeared in the appeal hearing against Najib’s conviction and jail sentence for misappropriation of RM42 million SRC International Sdn Bhd funds.

“Please use polite words like ‘erred in law’, ‘misdirected’ to show where he (Nazlan) had gone wrong.

“No need use phrases like ‘hopelessly incompetent’ and ‘poisoned his judgment’,” said Karim who is sitting alongside Court of Appeal judges Datuk Has Zanah Mehat and Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera.

Acknowledging Abdul Karim’s disapproval, Shafee then said he was not pulling any punches but merely describing what transpired.

Shafee earlier submitted that Nazlan had altered his written Grounds of Judgment (GOJ) through the inclusion of additional findings that differed from the prima facie ruling meted out against Najib on November 11, 2019.

This was not the first time Shafee has criticised Mohd Nazlan as Shafee argued yesterday that a “misdirection” made by the High Court judge in his ruling during the close of the prosecution stage in Najib’s trial deprived his client of a proper defence for an acquittal.

Today, Shafee argued whether Nazlan’s ‘illegal meddling’ demonstrated a clear element of bias in the learned judge’s conduct and whether Najib had indeed received a fair trial.

“Could we say he (Nazlan) was hopelessly incompetent? That’s why these kinds of blunder happen.

“By incorporating additional findings in the GOJ and note of proceedings has the judge ‘poisoned’ his judgment?” Shafee said earlier before being reprimanded.

He said consequent to Nazlan’s “incompetency” was a breach of natural justice as Najib must be notified of the exact case against him in order for the defence to provide rebuttals and explanations.

In the RM42 million SRC International case,  Najib was sentenced to 10 years’ jail on each of the three counts of CBT and each of the three counts of money laundering, and 12 years’ jail and a RM210 million fine, in default five years’ jail, in the case of abuse of position on July 28 last year.

However, Najib will only serve 12 years in jail as the judge ordered all the jail sentences to run concurrently.

The Court of Appeal has fixed April 5 to 8, 12 to 15 and 19 to 22 to hear the appeal.

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