Najib’s counsel objects to COA judge sitting in Apex Court

PUTRAJAYA – Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s lead counsel today raised an objection against one of the sitting judges in the former premier’s review application over his conviction in the RM42 million SRC International Sdn Bhd case. 

Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said Justice Datuk Abu Bakar Jais, who is a Court of Appeal judge, should not be present on the panel on this matter.

The counsel also wanted Justice Abu Bakar to recuse himself, stating that only Federal Court judges should be on the bench.

Muhammad Shafee said according to Section 74 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1974, the composition of the Federal Court judges must consist of all Federal Court judges.  

“This is nothing personal as I have known Justice Abu Bakar since service days,” he said. 

Lead prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram countered that such an arrangement to co-opt a Court of Appeal judge is allowed under Article 122 (2) of the Federal Constitution.

He also said the objection against the judge must show a real danger of bias. 

Justice Abu Bakar is part of the five-judge panel chaired by Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak  Datuk Abdul Rahman Sebli to hear Najib’s review application.

The other judges on the panel are Federal Court judges Datuk Vernon Ong Lam Kiat, Datuk Rhodzariah Bujang and Datuk Nordin Hassan.

Najib is seeking to overturn the decision made by a five-member bench of the Federal Court led by Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat on Aug 23 last year in upholding his conviction and 12-year jail sentence and fine for misappropriation of RM42 million of SRC International funds. – Bernama / pic TMR File