Don’t blame the Court for your ‘misfortune’, Sithambaram tells Najib’s legal team

PUTRAJAYA – The Federal Court here today was told that Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s ex-counsel Datuk Hisyam Teh Poh Teik was given all opportunity to submit in the SRC International Sdn Bhd final appeal, but he chooses not to seize the opportunities given on the pretext that he was not prepared to submit.

Ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram (picture) contended that it was ludicrous for a counsel to accept a brief only to appear in court to seek an adjournment on ground that he is not prepared.

“Ultimately, there was no breach of natural justice or miscarriage of justice or abuse of the court process to rectify. Najib’s legal team had four months to prepare for the additional or further evidence application and the main appeals. The alleged misfortune faced by the solicitors or counsel cannot be blamed on the court as the court has given all parties four months to prepare.

“The applicant’s (Najib) new counsel by accepting the brief after knowing of the hearing dates must continue to remain as legal counsel for the applicant and cannot discharge himself willy-nilly, for otherwise any new counsel can be deliberately appointed close to the hearing date in order to scuttle the hearing dates.

“This will create an absurd situation for the courts who will be left at the mercy of clients and their lawyers. Ultimately, it is also unethical and unprofessional after accepting the brief only to abandon the proceedings after having argued the motion of fresh evidence and recusal application of the Chief Justice. Counsel will appear and disappear as he pleases. The court is his courtyard,” said Sithambaram.

The prosecutor further said that Najib was complicit with his new counsel in seeking an adjournment during the final appeal despite knowing that the hearing dates had been fixed four months before.

Najib had taken on new lawyers with the hope of postponing the hearing of the appeal and so the court had the right to refuse the adjournment sought.

There was no breach of natural justice with this refusal, Sithambaram said, as it was “self-inflicted”.

The veteran prosecutor said this at the hearing of Najib’s application to review the previous Federal Court ruling in upholding his conviction and 12 years’ jail sentence and RM210 million fine for the misappropriation of RM42 million of SRC International funds.

He submitted this before the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Datuk Abdul Rahman Sebli, who chaired a five-member panel which included Federal Court judges Datuk Vernon Ong Lam Kiat, Datuk Rhodzariah Bujang and Datuk Nordin Hassan and Court of Appeal judge Datuk Abu Bakar Jais.

Najib, in his review application, 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.

The hearing continues Monday. – Bernama