SRC high court ruling turns contentious

The law as it stands shows the judge has every right to add further grounds in the findings of his prima facie case


THE judge in Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s (picture) SRC International Sdn Bhd trial did not err in law to add more grounds in his written judgment from the verbal ruling, the Court of Appeal heard.

In Najib’s SRC International appeal, ad-hoc prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram told the court that the trial has the right to do so as provided in Section 182A of the Criminal Procedure Code.

He said the court must consider all evidence presented before it at the conclusion of the trial to decide whether the prosecution had proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt and not only the prima facie findings.

“According to the defence, this is illegal. But the law as it stands shows the judge has every right, after giving an oral ruling, to add further grounds in the findings of his prima facie case. That is not illegal,” Sithambaram said during the appeal hearing last Thursday.

The defence, led by Tan Sri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, had previously submitted that the trial judge had acted as a “second prosecutor” while questioning his competency.

Muhammad Shafee also claimed the prosecution had “shifted goalposts” in the trial that was said to be in contrast to the prima facie case established at the end of their case.

Sithambaram rebutted these arguments, saying the defence’s submission is an “ingenious” attempt to exclude relevant and admissible evidence unfavourable to Najib’s appeal.

“In conclusion, the learned judge rightly decided that there is no gap in the prosecution case and the prosecution had not departed from its case even with the admissions of the appellant in his cross-examination.

“The prosecution’s case was corroborated by the appellant’s evidence. The case of the prosecution narrative remains intact throughout the whole trial,” Sithambaram said.

He also said last week that there was no prejudice, disadvantage against Najib or a miscarriage of justice occurred since all the rules of procedure and evidence had been followed in the trial.

The prosecutor also regarded the defence’s claim of Najib having a genuine belief over funds he received were Arab donations as a desperate defence.

He said the defence’s submissions are highly improbable and doubtful with numerous inconsistencies and contradictions.

Besides that, he said Najib’s defence gave some “cock-and-bull story” about the involvement and manipulations by Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, and some key individuals at SRC International.

He said these individuals were tasked to ensure funds in Najib’s accounts were sufficient to issue cheques or for spending, and it was Najib who played “tricks” over SRC International’s funds.

After 12 days of the hearing, both the prosecution and defence have completed their submissions in the appeal.

The defence is set to make their final reply tomorrow when the hearing resumes.

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 High Court sentenced Najib to 12 years in jail and fined RM210 million for abuse of power relating to the misappropriation of RM42 million.

He was also sentenced 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.