‘Justice is a long road’, says Zaid Ibrahim after court junks Najib’s bid to defer SRC International appeal hearing

·3-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 16 — Former law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim today said that “justice is a long road” after the Federal Court decided to disallow Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s bid to present new evidence in his final SRC International Sdn Bhd appeal in an attempt to void the trial that saw him convicted and sentenced to 12 years’ jail and fined RM210 million.

Expressing his sympathy to Najib and his family, Zaid said he too shared similar sentiments with fellow counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik and Najib over the Federal Court’s earlier ruling which also included rejecting an adjournment to hearings sought by the defence team.

Earlier, the Federal Court in dismissing two of Najib’s motions — namely to adduce additional evidence in his final appeal against his conviction and request to postpone the hearing by three to four months — had ruled that Najib’s final appeal is to be heard without delay as scheduled on August 18.

“But justice is a long road. Sometimes, you can get it here, you can get it elsewhere,” Zaid told a press conference at the Palace of Justice here.

Zaid’s law firm, Zaid Ibrahim Suflan TH Liew & Partners, is currently appearing for Najib as the latter’s new legal representatives for the SRC International case.

‘Shocked and disappointed’

Separately, Najib also spoke briefly to the press, adding that he was “bitterly disappointed” with the Federal Court for disallowing his bid to adduce additional evidence related to recent discoveries concerning trial judge Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali’s alleged conflict of interest.

“I believe the evidence would clearly indicate that Justice Nazlan was heavily conflicted. I hope in the final appeal we will be able to show the truth of the matter,” he said briefly.

Najib, however, did not comment on the court’s decision to not grant his legal team a request to postpone the hearing by another “three to four months” on the grounds they were unprepared for submission as they were newly appointed.

Hisyam, who is lead counsel for the defence, said he was “at loss for words” as he was shocked that the defence’s humble request — deemed fair and reasonable — for adjournment was not considered by the court.

Earlier, Hisyam argued that Najib’s new legal team was only appointed on July 21 but had been given “voluminous” records of the case to go through.

Najib was previously represented by Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah in both the High Court and Court of Appeal; but the latter was abruptly discharged last month.

“For the past two days, we presented strong evidence, both facts and law, to persuade the court to allow the application, but unfortunately, the court did not appreciate our arguments.

“We put up strong grounds. We thought the court would be sympathetic and exercise discretion, which we feel there are grounds for them to do so in our favour, but unfortunately, this is not the case,” he said.

With the hearing to resume on Thursday, Hisyam conceded that decisions must be made as to the next course of action since this was the final lap of the main appeal.

Currently, the SRC International appeal is scheduled to be heard at the Federal Court from August 15 to August 19 and from August 23 to August 26.

Last December, the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court’s July 2020 verdict and sentence of 12 years in prison and a fine of RM210 million.

The case is now at the Federal Court, and it is Najib’s last chance to convince the judges his conviction and punishment should be overturned.