Judge appeared ‘motivated’ to hold Najib to account, says defence

Lawyer argues that criminal law is not the avenue to hold the ex-PM accountable as he was already held into account in GE14

by RAHIMI YUNUS / pic by ARIF KARTONO

DATUK Seri Mohd Najib Razak (picture) had already faced his “punishment” when he lost in the 14th General Election (GE14), his lawyer Farhan Read told the Court of Appeal yesterday.

This was part of the defence counsel’s argument when he said Kuala Lumpur High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, during the trial of SRC International Sdn Bhd last year, appeared to be “motivated” to hold the former prime minister (PM) to account.

Mohd Nazlan’s apparent desire to hold the accused accountable, Farhan said, was misplaced.

“It appeared that the judge had a desire to hold the accused to account,” Farhan said at the appeal hearing in Putrajaya yesterday.

He said criminal law is not the proper avenue for his client to be held accountable.

The lawyer added that the trial judge’s findings to order Najib to enter his defence was also highly prejudiced.

“Criminal law is not the avenue to hold Najib accountable as he was already held into account in GE14,” Farhan said.

He said as “key players” in the case such as fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low and former SRC International CEO Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil have absconded, the only Malaysian left to be held accountable in the case is Najib.

After six days, Najib’s legal team concluded their submissions yesterday to overturn the conviction and jail sentence for misappropriating RM42 million from SRC International, a former unit of 1Malaysia Development Bhd.

In the six days of proceedings, 20 bundles of documents containing over 2,000 pages related to the appeal, were served to court comprising a three-member panel.

Justice Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil chaired the bench along with Justices Datuk Has Zanah Mehat and Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera.

The prosecution will be starting their submissions today.

The appeal hearing was initially fixed for 12 days from April 5-22, with four days allotted to the defence and prosecution, and two days each for the final round of submission.

Najib was found guilty of all the seven charges — one count of abuse of position, three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT) and three counts of money laundering — relating to the misappropriation of RM42 million belonging to SRC International.

The RM42 million funds were channelled into Najib’s bank accounts through Gandingan Mentari Sdn Bhd and Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd, purportedly SRC International’s corporate social responsibility partner.

Mohd Nazlan sentenced Najib to 12 years of jail and fined RM210 million for abuse of power involving RM42 million of funds misappropriated from SRC International.

He also sentenced Najib to 10 years of jail each for three CBT offences and 10 years of jail each for three money-laundering offences committed in the fund’s embezzlement.