The trial of former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s (picture) corruption cases involving SRC International Sdn Bhd funds may start soon at the High Court.
This follows a decision by the Federal Court seven-man panel to lift the stay of proceedings order granted by the Court of Appeal to Najib to temporarily stall the trial pending disposal of his appeals over his interlocutory matters.
Chief Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, who led the panel, allowed the prosecution’s appeal to set aside the stay of proceedings order.
“In the granting of the stay of proceedings order, we are of the view that the Court of Appeal did not have the jurisdiction to do so,” he said.
The top judge in the judiciary then remitted the matter back to the High Court for proper action forthwith and said: “Let the High Court take it from there”.
Attorney-General Tommy Thomas clarified with the court that it would be upon the prosecution to go back before the High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali to fix a case management date.
The court also dismissed Najib’s counsel Harvinderjit Singh’s oral application for a stay of proceedings under Section 80 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 pending hearing of Najib’s appeals at the Federal Court on April 4 concerning interlocutory matters.
The other judges presiding on the panel were Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Zaharah Ibrahim, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Datuk Seri David Wong Dak Wah and Federal Court judges Tan Sri Ramly Ali, Datuk Rohana Yusuf, Datuk Mohd Zawawi Salleh and Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat.
The 66-year old Pekan Member of Parliament is facing three counts of criminal breach of trust and one charge of abusing his position involving SRC International funds amounting to RM42 million.
He was also charged with three counts of money laundering involving the same amount of money.
Najib’s trial was initially scheduled to start from Feb 12 and run until March 29 but was put on hold twice after the Court of Appeal on Feb 11 and March 21 granted a stay of proceedings pending related appeals.
On March 21, Najib lost three out of four of his appeals in relation to his seven charges involving SRC International funds. The matters are now awaiting a hearing at the Federal Court on April 4.
The matters included Najib’s bid to obtain a gag order to prohibit the media and public from discussing the merits of his criminal case, access to investigation documents including witness statement at the pre-trial stage, and on the Attorney-General’s (AG) withdrawal of his transfer certificate.
Meanwhile, the prosecution is also appealing to the Federal Court against the appellate court’s verdict which ruled in favour of Najib relating to the appointment letter of ad hoc prosecutor Datuk Sulaiman Abdullah.
After the court’s decision, ad hoc deputy public prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram told reporters that the Federal Court’s decision today meant that there was no impediment for the trial to start.
“The order of the court is for us to forthwith contact the High Court registry for purpose of fixing case management date, with the view of fixing trial dates. We will be doing it immediately,” he said.