Apex court to deliver decision on Najib’s bid to review SRC verdict tomorrow

PUTRAJAYA – The Federal Court is scheduled to deliver its verdict tomorrow on a review application by Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak (picture) over its ruling in upholding his conviction and 12 years’ jail sentence and fine for misappropriation of RM42 million in SRC International Sdn Bhd funds.

A five-member bench of the Federal Court, comprising Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Datuk Abdul Rahman Sebli, Federal Court judges Datuk Vernon Ong Lam Kiat, Datuk Rhodzariah Bujang and Datuk Nordin Hassan and Court of Appeal judge Datuk Abu Bakar Jais will deliver their judgment at 9am.

Najib, 69, who is currently serving a 12-year jail term in Kajang prison, 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.

Meanwhile, prominent criminal lawyer Datuk N Sivananthan, when asked what would happen if the decision favoured Najib, said the decision of the previous panel will be set aside and the matter will be fixed for an appeal hearing.

“If the application is allowed, it means that his final appeal has not been disposed of, so he is put in the situation of someone who is still waiting for his final appeal. If the application is dismissed, that would be the end of the matter. The sentence passed by the previous panel will remain, and he will have to serve it,” said Sivananthan. 

During a six-day proceeding which started on Jan 19, Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah argued that the earlier bench that heard Najib’s main appeal made a fundamental error in law by not allowing the adjournment of the trial and then not allowing Najib’s ex-counsel Datuk Hisyam Teh Poh Teik to discharge himself.

The counsel also said that a Facebook posting by Tengku Maimun’s husband on May 11, 2018, before the 14th general election, amounted to a public declaration of hatred against Najib.

He said the top judge should have known about the public post and asked the involved parties whether she should recuse herself from the panel.

Meanwhile, ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram contended that there was no breach of natural justice or miscarriage of justice or that any abuse of the court process happened in the case as the defence was given all the opportunity to submit during the final appeal.

He said Hisyam chose not to seize the opportunities given on the pretext that he was not prepared and that Najib had taken on new lawyers with the hope of postponing the hearing of the appeal.

Hence, the court had the right to refuse the adjournment sought, he added.

On July 28, 2020, the then High Court Judge Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, who is now a Court of Appeal judge, sentenced Najib to 10 years’ jail on each of the three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT) and each of the three counts of money laundering, and 12 years’ jail and RM210 million fine, in default five years’ jail, in the case of abuse of his position.

On Dec 8, 2021, the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court’s decision and dismissed Najib’s appeal to set aside his conviction and jail sentence as well as the fine. – Bernama