KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 23 — With Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s final appeal against his conviction of misappropriating funds from SRC International entering its final leg, all eyes are on the Federal Court and the former prime minister’s defence team this week.

The hearing at the country’s supreme court at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya had been scheduled to take place over nine days, from August 15 to August 19, and will resume today until August 26.

The prosecution has concluded its submission and the current defence has indicated it will not be making further submissions, meaning that the apex court could immediately make a ruling today or reserve its judgment for a date to be fixed later.

With uncertainty looming today as to whether Najib will be sent straight to jail for 12 years and made to pay a RM210 million fine if his conviction is upheld, Malay Mail offers a quick recap of what transpired during the first half of the appeal hearing.

Day 1 (August 15)

At the start of the hearing, Najib’s new team of lawyers sought to convince a five-judge panel in the Federal Court to allow the admission of additional evidence as part of his final appeal.

Lead counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik argued the additional evidence was not made available to Najib at trial before the High Court, and thus, would be relevant to his appeal adjudicated in the Federal Court.

The additional evidence comprises documentary and viva voce (oral) evidence of certain witnesses and seeks to establish the fact of conflict or bias on the part of trial judge Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali’s role in the Maybank Group of Companies circa the time material to the seven charges against Najib.

The prosecution, led by ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram, however rebutted that Najib’s bid is but mere camouflage to fish for evidence and that Najib failed to fulfil the legal threshold for admittance.

Day 2 (August 16)

The day’s hearing started with the apex court unanimously dismissing Najib’s attempt to introduce new evidence related to recent discoveries concerning judge Nazlan’s alleged conflict of interest.

After the dismissal, the Federal Court then ordered for the main appeal to proceed, but not before the defence made its intention known to delay the hearing by another “three to four months”.

Justifying their request for adjournment, the defence had argued that the SRC International case is not “ordinary” and the defence team’s postponement request was made in good faith since they were only appointed on July 21 but had been given “voluminous” records to sift through.

On the same day, the Federal Court again delivered its unanimous verdict to dismiss Najib’s legal team’s request to postpone hearing his final appeal.

In the broad grounds of judgment, the court noted that adjournment could be granted in appropriate cases where counsel is not ready to proceed for legitimate reasons, but this was not the case here.

Day 3 (August 17)

Proceedings did not take place on this day despite having been fixed for hearing.

Day 4 (August 18)

Before Najib’s final appeal was heard, his lead counsel Hisyam applied to the court to discharge himself from representing Najib if the defence’s request for adjournment by another “three to four months” was not granted.

Yet again, the court was firm in its stand, stressing that it will not be reviewing its decision on refusing adjournment and that nothing has changed since.

With Hisyam having “failed to disclose adequate cause” to justify his discharge from representing Najib, the court dismissed his bid and ordered the hearing of Najib’s appeal proper to start without further delay today.

At the onset of hearing, the court broke from convention and ordered the prosecution to present its case first so that Najib’s new legal team could have more time to prepare their case.

The prosecution, in its submission, argued that Najib was the controlling and directing mind of SRC International, by virtue of being the “shadow director” of SRC International who issued directions or instructions in a manner by which directors of a company are accustomed.

After the hearing adjourned for the day, Hisyam told reporters no submissions would be filed since he was in no position to participate in the current appeal proceedings as he was not accorded time to make the necessary preparations for Najib’s defence.

This meant that the defence will be solely relying on previous submissions filed at the Court of Appeal by Najib’s former counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

Following the setbacks, Najib then lamented that he was now effectively “defenceless” while expressing his objections “in the strongest of terms” in relation to the ongoing appeal as his right to life, liberty and a fair hearing was now at stake.

Day 5 (August 19)

The prosecution continued with its submission, arguing that the apex court should uphold Najib’s conviction and send him straight to jail for his crimes since he had admitted to stealing RM42 million from SRC International in a sworn testimony dating back to 2015.

Directing the court, prosecutors said Najib’s direct affirmation could be found in the sworn affidavit that he filed in his civil lawsuit against former transport minister Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik, long before the Pekan MP was charged in the SRC International case.

As the prosecution concluded its submission, Hisyam again asserted he would not be making any submissions.

The lawyer also sought an adjournment to the next two hearing days but was immediately rejected by the court.

The Court of Appeal had on December 8, 2021 upheld the High Court’s July 2020 verdict and sentence of 12 years in prison and a fine of RM210 million meted against Najib.

Najib had been found guilty of one count of abuse of power, three counts of criminal breach of trust, and three counts of money laundering.

The case is now at the Federal Court, and it is Najib’s last chance to convince the judges that his conviction and punishment should be overturned.