Prosecutors insist Najib’s RM42m SRC International case apolitical, says ‘facts speak for themselves’

·3-min read
Datuk V. Sithambaram addresses members of the media at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya December 8, 2021. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Datuk V. Sithambaram addresses members of the media at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya December 8, 2021. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

PUTRAJAYA, Dec 8 — There was no element of politics in the corruption charges filed against Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the lead prosecutor in ex-prime minister’s SRC International Sdn Bhd conviction and sentencing appeal said when insisting the “facts speak for themselves”.

Dispelling Najib’s claim of political persecution, ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram noted that investigation papers used for the case contained nothing other than “hard cold facts” including various witnesses’ testimonies and documents.

“There is no politics inside there. These are facts. Hard, cold facts and we have to interpret these facts reasonably, which we did and presented it to the court.

“So far, four judges have looked at it and found that the evidence presented against Najib is justified to show the commission of the offences of which he is charged with and the sentence that was passed.

“So, I think the facts speak for itself,” he told reporters during a press conference here.

Earlier today, the former prime minister failed to appeal his conviction and sentencing involving the misappropriation of RM42 million belonging to SRC International Sdn Bhd, after the appellate court affirmed the High Court’s ruling.

Court of Appeal Judge Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil, who chaired the three-man bench alongside Datuk Has Zanah Mehat and Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera, delivered the unanimous ruling via video-conferencing at the Palace of Justice.

When asked to comment on the decision, Sithambaram said it was a victory that was hard-earned as Najib’s defence team put up a significant fight throughout the trial.

“What I can say is that it took lot of effort for the prosecution to investigate, gather documentary evidence, secure witnesses and take their statement and come up with charges at the High Court.

“And of course, the appellant, Datuk Seri Najib, and his defence team put up a strong fight on virtually all issues that can possibly be contested.

“They took objections to many, many issues which is their right but that meant the proceedings were rather protracted,” he said.

Sithambaram also acknowledged the trial was one of the most gruelling tasks he has ever undertaken, as it ran for a year and a half, from April 2019 until July 2020.

However, he praised the prosecution team for persevering through the hearings that took place way before it commenced at the High Court in 2019 when Najib filed four applications linked to his trial.

“What is exhausting before Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali was a very continuous trial where we had short time to prepare our submissions.

“Very stressful. I think many of us did not even sleep and had to resort to sleeping pills but as lawyers, it’s fulfilling to do your job to the best of your abilities.

“We are happy that the view that the prosecution took has been proven to be correct and there was no extraneous considerations or other motives in our prosecution as attributed earlier that we are wilfully suppressing evidence of that sort which the court has found nothing of it,” he said.

Najib was earlier appealing the High Court’s decision from July 28, 2020, which found him guilty of all seven charges relating to SRC’s RM42 million.

The High Court previously sentenced Najib to 10 years’ jail for each of six charges (three counts each of criminal breach of trust and money laundering), as well as 12 years’ jail and a RM210 million fine with an additional five years’ jail if the fine is not paid for the abuse of position charge.

The High Court had decided that all the prison sentences would run concurrently or at the same time, which would mean a maximum imprisonment of 12 years for Najib.

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