Appeals Court reprimands Najib’s defence for being repetitive, ‘incoherent’ in conviction appeal submissions

Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak arriving at the Court of Appeal, Putrajaya on April 28, 2021. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak arriving at the Court of Appeal, Putrajaya on April 28, 2021. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

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PUTRAJAYA, April 28 — The Court of Appeal has reprimanded Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s defence team for being repetitive and “incoherent” in its submissions after it failed to wrap up Najib’s appeal hearing against the conviction and jail sentence for misappropriation of RM42 million SRC International Sdn Bhd funds that was fixed for conclusion today.

This took place when Najib’s lawyer Harvinderjit Singh was earlier submitting in length on the admissibility of court documents and procedural aspects pertaining to the trial at the High Court, as the appeal.

With the appeal hearing nearing the usual adjournment time of 4pm, Court of Appeal judge Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil who sounded and looked visibly irritated, interjected Harvinderjit’s submission and gave him a stern warning to avoid repeating his submissions which has already been heard by the bench several weeks prior.

Abdul Karim also instructed Harvinderjit to make substantive submissions in a clear manner as the lawyer was “going round and round”.

“Go direct to the main point and address critical issues like what your co-counsel did earlier this morning,” said Karim, referring to Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

“Give us submissions that stick to our minds, not lose it from our minds.

“The most important thing is to make us clear, so we can see clearer or else we’re all jumbled up by the arguments,” he added, chairing a three-member panel alongside Court of Appeal judges Datuk Has Zanah Mehat and Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera.

Acknowledging Karim’s disapproval, Harvinderjit said he would take at least another “half a day” if he were to sum up his submission, prompting Karim to react in astonishment before asking the lawyer if he could give his word to wrap up everything if given one final day.

Karim then remarked on the drawn-out proceedings which initially began prior to the fasting month of Ramadan, prompting ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram to stand up and replied tongue in cheekily.

“If Yang Arif is not firm, we would be here until Hari Raya Haji,” Sithambaram quipped. The festival is scheduled for July 20.

To that end, Harvinderjit assured that he would keep his submissions on point.

Abdul Karim then allowed the defence an additional day on May 6 to finalise its submissions which had gone beyond the original scheduled dates for the appeal hearing.

The first extended dates — April 27 and 28 — were initially accorded to the defence to wrap up its final replies after the prosecution concluded its rebuttal the previous week.

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

However the new date fixed for the appeal hearing would now clash with Najib’s ongoing 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) trial scheduled at the High Court from May 3 until May 6 before High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.

In the RM42 million SRC International case, Najib was sentenced by the High Court 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 which he is now appealing against.

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