Long arm of the law affects all, prosecutors say after apex court refuses Najib’s SRC review

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

PUTRAJAYA, March 31 — Let it be known to all would-be offenders that the law will catch up with them eventually, even if they are statesmen, prosecutors declared today after the Federal Court dismissed Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s bid for it to review its ruling last year upholding his conviction for misappropriating RM42 million from SRC International, cementing his 12-year sentence and RM210 million fine.

During a press conference after today’s hearing, ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V. Sithambaram sought to relay the prosecution’s message in the SRC International case to would-be-offenders that no person is above the law.

Sithambaram said it is hopeful that today’s decision will bring closure or finality to litigation in the SRC International case which has lasted the span of over four years.

“You have all heard the verdict. The review (bid) by the applicant has been dismissed, four to one. Legally, the accused has exhausted all avenues of appeal.

“This decision by federal court is also a vindication that the charges against Najib are legally sound and not politically motivated by the prosecution,” he told reporters at the Palace of Justice here.

Earlier, a 4-1 decision by four judges on the Federal Court panel rejected Najib’s challenge against his conviction and sentence in the SRC case, and effectively endorsed the August 2022 decision of the Federal Court panel chaired by Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat which had ordered Najib to begin serving his sentence.

Federal Court judge Datuk Vernon Ong Lam Kiat read out the majority decision, which was agreed to by three others on the panel — Federal Court judges Datuk Rhodzariah Bujang and Datuk Nordin Hassan, and Court of Appeal judge Datuk Abu Bakar Jais who was sitting as a Federal Court judge.

Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Datuk Abdul Rahman Sebli, who was chairing the five-judge bench, was the only judge who dissented or disagreed with the majority.

Today’s decision meant Najib must remain in prison, where he has spent the last seven months now.

When asked of other avenues Najib could mount anew another review bid, Sithambaram said, “Legally, it was possible but unlikely’.

As for the dissenting judgment, Sithambaram declined to comment further but acknowledge acceptance of the learned judge’s view as a lawyer.

He also said there was “no joy in a successful prosecution” except that the Attorney General’s Chambers has been able to ensure the rule of law has prevailed in this case.

On July 28, 2020, Justice Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali found Najib guilty of all seven charges — three for criminal breach of trust, three for money-laundering, and one for abuse of power — at the High Court.

Mohd Nazlan, who is now a Court of Appeal judge, then sentenced Najib to 12 years in prison and fined him RM210 million in default five years imprisonment.

His decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal on December 8, 2021.