KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 10 — Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s new defence team is expected to withdraw from representing him if the Federal Court decides not to grant a postponement of his final appeal against his SRC International conviction, a report has said.

News portal Malaysiakini reported that the team, which Najib appointed to replace Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah barely a fortnight ago, are set to ask the Federal Court again to defer the appeal hearing scheduled to begin Monday.

According to Malaysiakini, Najib’s new legal team had indicated to the Federal Court today that they are not ready to go ahead with the SRC appeal hearing, as they need more time to prepare.

Malaysiakini also reported Najib’s new lawyers as having told the Federal Court that they would have no choice except to discharge themselves from representing Najib in the SRC case, if the Federal Court chooses to proceed with hearing the appeal.

The report said this was understood to have been mentioned to the Federal Court during a case management for the SRC case today.

As early as this April, the Federal Court had already informed Najib and the prosecution that the appeal hearing will start on August 15, which is next Monday.

But after the High Court on July 21 rejected Najib’s bid to bring in UK lawyer Jonathan Laidlaw to represent him in the SRC case, Najib on July 25 abruptly discharged his entire legal team including Shafee from representing him in the SRC case.

On July 26, Najib’s new legal team for the SRC case was announced to be headed by lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik from the law firm Hisyam Teh, while the law firm Zaid Ibrahim Suflan TH Liew & Partners’ partners Liew Teck Huat and Rueben Mathiavaranam was reported to be his new solicitors for the SRC case.

Najib’s new lawyers had on July 26 wrote to the Federal Court to say that they intend to ask for the SRC appeal hearing — scheduled to start August 15 — to be postponed as a “wholly new team has taken over” the SRC case.

The Federal Court on July 28 wrote to Najib’s new legal team to stress that “no postponements will be allowed” for the SRC appeal, and also confirmed that the appeal hearing is scheduled to start on August 15.

It is understood that the Federal Court will on August 15 first hear Najib’s application to add purported new evidence to the SRC case in his bid to ultimately seek for a retrial.

If Najib fails in his application which seeks for retrial of the SRC case, the Federal Court is expected to proceed with the hearing of Najib’s appeal against his conviction in the SRC case.

If such a situation happens, it remains to be seen if Najib’s new lawyers would be seeking for postponement of the appeal hearing and if any bid for postponement would be granted or if the legal team would discharge themselves.

As of today, Najib’s new legal team for the SRC case had only been appointed for slightly over two weeks, and will have only four more days to prepare for the SRC appeal hearing if it starts next Monday.

It is understood that the new legal team had only received the hard copies of 162 volumes of court documents and other related documents for the SRC case on July 27 or 14 days ago.

Currently, the SRC appeal is scheduled to be heard at the Federal Court from August 15 to August 19 (next Monday to next Friday), and from August 23 to August 26 (Tuesday to Friday of the week after).

The appeal at the Federal Court will be Najib’s final appeal in the SRC case, since he had previously failed in the Court of Appeal in his appeal against his guilty verdict in the High Court.

The High Court had sentenced Najib to pay a RM210 million fine and 12 years’ jail over the misappropriation of RM42 million of SRC International funds.