by MARK RAO & RAHIMI YUNUS / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s counsel in his SRC International Sdn Bhd trial yesterday said the defence is considering a motion to disqualify lead prosecutor Attorney General (AG) Tommy Thomas for having preconceived notions about the case.
Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said Thomas had this notion before he was appointed AG.
“I think he has made a pre-judgement even before becoming the AG,” he said outside the court room where Najib was charged for criminal breach of trust (CBT) and abuse of power.
The former prime minister’s (PM) trial date is set to begin on Feb 8, 2019, while the case management is scheduled on Aug 8.
Muhammad Shafee also said the prosecution is not ready for the proceedings that lay ahead.
“Normally, it is us who ask for the delay because we are taken by surprise. This time, it is the prosecution who have asked for a one-month delay for a mere mention,” he told reporters.
“Now you would have thought that they would be ready when they charged my client today. After all, Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail said they were ready in July 2015. If you were ready then, how come you are not ready today?”
In response, Thomas said he will wait for the application to be filed by the defence and did not provide any further comment.
Thomas, in a separate note, said the prosecution has a strong case against the former PM in relation to his involvement in SRC International.
“We reached the conclusion that we have a strong prima facea (or at face-value) case, but accept the burden of proof is on us and that the accused is innocent until proven guilty,” he said after the same hearing.
Najib pleaded not guilty to all charges yesterday.
Thomas had to cancel his own planned press conference at the court’s lobby after a large crowd of Najib’s supporters heckled the group. Thomas later spoke to reporters in front of the High Court, a distance away.
While Muhammad Shafee seeks to disqualify Thomas, his own position is also vulnerable to questions after accusations that he had received payments of RM9.5 million from 1MDB previously.
“They can try (to disqualify me), but they will be surprised if they do try,” Muhammad Shafee said.
Muhammad Shafee has requested a gag order relating to the SRC International case to stop any prejudicial statements “by anyone at all” in the media, as well as social media.
Thomas said the prosecution is against the order as it contradicts the right to free speech.
“We do not know how wide the scope of the gag order is and if the court has jurisdiction to order it,” he said.
“The order will be open until Aug 8 (the date of the case management), which is just over a month away. We will object to it then.”