Prosecutors dismiss Najib’s signature verification application as ‘afterthought’, ‘mala fide’

The former PM testified that he only realised about a possible forgery during the trial when the absence of original copies was raised in court

by RAHIMI YUNUS/ pic by HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN

THE prosecution has dismissed Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s (picture) defence to get a handwriting expert to verify his signatures on documents of SRC International Sdn Bhd, describing the application as an afterthought and mala fide.

“In short, this application is an attempt to unmark documents that were already exhibited by the prosecution or defence. It is asking the court to review evidence based on flimsy and unsubstantiated grounds. It is an afterthought,” deputy public prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram said before the judge at the Kuala Lumpur High Court yesterday.

“The reason for disputing is that doubt suddenly has crept into their minds on the authenticity of the signatures as discovered during the trial. What was it that they have discovered in the trial? That needs to be answered. Despite the forgery claims, they did not make any police report,” Sithambaram added.

The defence for the former prime minister (PM) made an application yesterday for several disputed documents, including shareholder’s minutes that bore the accused’s signature, to be authenticated by an Australian expert.

The documents are currently exhibits in the SRC International trial.

Defence counsel Harvinderjit Singh said the burden of proof is on the prosecution, and the origin of the exhibits in question could not be established.

Harvinderjit added that there were matters that the defence only found out during the trial, including the absence of original copies of the documents, the BlackBerry Messenger chats of Najib’s bank account relationship manager and the alleged cut-and-paste job on former SRC International director Datuk Suboh Md Yasin’s signatures.

The prosecution said the defence is now disputing the exhibits, including shareholder’s minutes that they produced to the court, as a change of defence plan.

The documents showed Najib was overseeing the operations of SRC International.

Sithambaram said the application made by the defence would put the former at a disadvantage as their case is already closed and the proceeding has progressed in the defence stage.

He argued the need for a handwriting expert assessment on Najib’s signatures as the prosecution has relied on direct evidence based on previous admissions by the defendant during the investigation phase.

Najib, the former SRC International advisor emeritus, previously testified that he only realised about a possible signature forgery during the trial when the absence of original copies was raised in court.

He, however, had previously confirmed with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission on the authenticity of the photocopied documents when his statement was recorded by the authority.

“My learned friends (the defence) are asking for expert, but we relied on direct evidence based on admissions,” the prosecutor said. As it is, Harvinderjit said the defence had served the Australian expert with scanned copies of the disputed documents and they had acquired a preliminary report.

He said the expert shall not be assumed to be the defence’s hired gun and asked for the testimonies to be allowed to be heard first.

The proceeding continues today and the court will decide on the matter after all arguments by both sides are fully heard.