Court decides on Najib’s SRC appeal today

by ASILA JALIL / pic by TMR FILE

THE Court of Appeal will deliver its verdict on former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s (picture) appeal to rescind his conviction and sentencing involving misappropriation of funds totalling to RM42 million in the SRC International Sdn Bhd.

The court did not make any changes to the date after it dismissed Najib’s application to adduce new evidence in his appeal.

The three-man bench chaired by Judge Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil said the panel had set aside Najib’s application as the latter failed to meet the requirement under Section 61 of the Courts of Judicature Act which stated the evidence must be relevant, not available during trial and is able to create reasonable doubt in the prosecution’s case.

“The appellant has failed to satisfy Section 61 of the Courts of Judicature Act that stated fresh evidence is required for the justice of the case.

“Under the circumstances, we find the additional evidence was not necessary to the appeal and no exceptional circumstances were shown for the court to take additional evidence in the appeal.

“The application is dismissed. The delivery of the decision tomorrow will proceed as fixed,” said Abdul Karim during the proceedings yesterday.

The other two judges on the panel were Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera and Datuk Has Zanah Mehat.

The proceeding was conducted via Zoom after the Court of Appeal said it would issue an arrest warrant for the former PM if he did not show up for proceedings.

Najib’s defence team had initially pleaded to postpone the proceedings after a letter from Messrs Shafee & Co signed by lead counsel Tan Seri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah informed the court that a member in their legal team had contracted Covid-19.

Only lawyer Harvinder Singh Sidhu was present at the court yesterday on behalf of Najib as his entire defence team was absent for the proceedings.

Muhammad Shafee had previously sought a postponement for yesterday’s hearing to allow him to make is submission in 10 days, after their quarantine period.

He added the team’s preparations for the proceedings were interrupted by the Covid-19 scare and the legal team had not been able to coordinate as they had to undergo self-isolation.

Muhamamd Shaffee also pointed out that the hybrid proceeding was “unfair and unequal” as none of them had time to prepare themselves for the session.

Abdul Karim however told Muhammad Shafee to make his submissions at 12.30pm yesterday despite the issues brought up by the lead counsel.

“We have heard all that. I have considered all that when I gave my direction for the online proceedings. You can still work from home. I disallow your application,” he said.

Ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram said there had been previous attempts to postpone the proceedings but they had failed.

He also argued that Muhammad Shafee was only a casual contact.

The panel also ruled that Najib and his defence team do not have to be present in court today for the verdict and can attend the proceeding via Zoom due to their isolation period.

Abdul Karim said the court can give the verdict online in accordance with Section 15A of the Courts of Judicature (Amendment) 2020 that enables the Federal Court, the Court of Appeal and the High Court to conduct civil or criminal proceedings using remote communication technology.

On July 28, 2020 Najib was found guilty of all the seven charges relating to the misappropriation of SRC International funds.

He was slapped with one count of abuse of position, three counts of criminal breach of trust and three counts of money laundering of RM42 million belonging to SRC International.

Najib had filed an application in December last year to adduce further oral evidence for the proceedings by calling Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Tan Seri Azam Baki and former SRC International Sdn Bhd investigating officer Rosli Hussein.