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Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court January 6, 2022. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur High Court January 6, 2022. — Picture by Hari Anggara

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 25 — Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has written to the Federal Court asking for “a reasonable time gap” to hear his appeal against his conviction, fine and jail sentence for misappropriating RM42 million from SRC International Sdn Bhd.

The court document undersigned by Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah was filed today, or just three days before the Federal Court is scheduled to fix the full hearing dates for Najib’s appeal.

In the affidavit sighted by Malay Mail, Muhammad Shafee said the fixing of an early date to hear Najib’s appeal was ‘greatly prejudicial’ especially considering this would be Najib’s final appeal to quash his conviction and sentencing.

“The appellant should be given ample time to prepare instead of being rushed into it. 

“The appellant feels his appeal is being rushed for no good reason. Perception is important to the image of the Judiciary,” the lawyer wrote.

During case management on January 24, parties appearing before the Federal Court registrar had been informed of the court’s intention to fix hearing dates two months from now.

Malay Mail has confirmed with the prosecution team that the affidavit was received by email at 5.33pm today.

He later cited several reasons why Najib’s conviction and sentencing appeal before the Federal Court was simply not possible to be heard as early as March.

Muhammad Shafee noted that the decision by the Court of Appeal to dismiss Najib’s conviction appeal was made on December 8, 2021 — a lapse of eight months or so from the completion of the hearing.

“We are certain the reasons the Court of Appeal took its time was due to the fact, inter alia, that the issues posed therein were complex and many are the kinds never raised before in our jurisdiction and the Commonwealth,” he wrote.

Muhammad Shafee also said parties, in particular the defence, has yet to obtain the full Records of Appeal (RoA) in relation to the appeals filed by Najib in both the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

“Since parties have not been provided with the full Record, the appellant is unable to prepare a complete Petition of Appeal as we have to go through the complete Records to do so.

“As such, we are almost definitely, in view of this observation, going to ask for a further extension of time to file in a complete and comprehensive Petition of Appeal,” he said, adding that the extension was needed due to the voluminous nature of the RoA.

Muhammad Shafee also pointed out that the aforementioned RoA was also needed to be supplied to the Queen’s Counsel (QC) from the United Kingdom engaged by his client.

A QC, said to be a specialist in a specific area of law, can only appear in a Malaysian court on an ad hoc basis after getting admission.

The lawyer further highlighted that many of the notes and documents (with the exception of the written judgments from the lower courts) were written in Bahasa Malaysia which must be translated into English for the defence to effectively brief the QC.

Najib’s appeal for fresh evidence to be adduced must be heard first

On top of the aforementioned reasons, Muhammad Shafee said additional fresh evidence in relation to former Bank Negara Malaysia governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Abdul Aziz and her family, former minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop and Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil were also before the court to be considered.

The lawyer argued that fixing the hearing date of Najib’s substantive appeal without hearing the appeal for fresh evidence to be adduced could deliver a wrong adverse message to his client and the general public in relation to the perception of justice.

Among other things, Najib wants the court to consider including further evidence before deciding on his SRC appeal, with such alleged further evidence relating to Zeti Akhtar as well as her alleged links to Low Taek Jho via her family’s alleged receipt of funds from the latter and also regarding the recovery of US$864,813.27 in 1MDB funds from SRC former chief executive Nik Faisal.

On December 7 last year, the Court of Appeal dismissed Najib’s application to adduce new evidence in his appeal by ruling that Najib had failed to cumulatively satisfy Section 61 of the Courts of Judicature Act that fresh evidence was required for justice in the case.

On the next day, the same court upheld the conviction and 12-year jail term and RM210 million fine on Najib for misappropriating RM42 million in SRC funds.

Justice Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil, who led a three-member bench comprising Justices Datuk Has Zanah Mehat and Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera, dismissed Najib’s appeal against the KL High Court decision on July 28, 2020.

Muhammad Shafee then stressed the necessity of having separate hearings and a reasonable time gap between the appeal on additional evidence and the substantive main appeal.

“In light of the above, we gravely doubt any dates in April, May and June can be workable,” he said.

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