SRC review: Prosecution says Najib can’t seek relief for consequence of his own actions
PUTRAJAYA, Feb 22 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak was the author of his misfortune and consequently cannot invoke the Federal Court’s inherent jurisdiction to review its own decision in his final appeal hearing last year, prosecutors said today.
Ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram said the former prime minister’s counsel then, Datuk Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, had persistently maintained the position that he was not ready to proceed with the substantive appeal and refused to submit.
“This position was condoned by the applicant throughout the appeals hearing. The applicant’s counsel refused to submit and is now using that ground as entitling the applicant to a rehearing.
“The applicant contends there has been a breach of natural justice as the applicant was not heard at the appeals. The applicant is clearly an author of his own misfortune and therefore cannot invoke Rule 137,” he said.
Sithambaram said Hisyam had also sought to discharge himself when Najib previously elected to have lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah discharged and appoint Zaid Ibrahim Sufian TH Liew & Partners (ZIST) and Hisyam as his solicitors and lead counsel respectively.
Datuk Seri Najib Razak's lawyer Tan Sri Shafee Abdullah is pictured at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya February 22, 2023. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
However, Hisyam’s request to be discharged was later rejected by the Federal Court.
Sithambaram said the attempts by Hisyam to be discharged and his refusal to make submissions were clearly a deliberate tactic to gain a retrial and should properly be treated as a contempt of court.
Highlighting how Najib had ample time to engage new counsels to prepare for his final appeal at a later scheduled date, Sithambaram said Najib instead opted to dismiss Muhammad Shafee at the eleventh hour and subsequently request for an adjournment.
“The applicant was well aware of the trial dates as proposed and fixed by Messrs Shafee & Co when Messrs ZIST and Tuan Haji Hisyam took over the brief.
“Messrs ZIST knew of the hearing dates when Messrs ZIST and Tuan Haji Hisyam took over the case and hence the request for adjournment under such circumstances is clearly to scuttle the hearing of the appeals.
Sithambaram said it must be noted that the hearing dates of the main appeals were fixed four months earlier at the request of Najib’s counsel Muhammad Shafee.
While every accused person has a right to appoint a solicitor of their choice, Sithambaram said this must be done in good time so as not to scuttle the hearing dates fixed earlier.
“Messrs ZIST should not take over the case from Messrs Shafee & Co if they were not prepared to proceed with the appeals on the dates fixed for hearing in August 2022.
“However, Messrs ZIST took over the case with the sole purpose of asking for an adjournment of the case!” he said, later adding that Muhammad Shafee continued to act for Najib in other 1MDB-related cases and the initial discharging was dubious to seek an adjournment of the appeals.
A five-member panel presided over today’s hearing with Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Datuk Abdul Rahman Sebli leading Federal Court judges Datuk Vernon Ong Lam Kiat, Datuk Rhodzariah Bujang, Datuk Nordin Hassan and Court of Appeal judge Datuk Abu Bakar Jais on the bench.
Boxes of SRC review files are seen at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya February 21, 2023. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Following his incarceration, Najib has sought to challenge the Federal Court’s five-member bench’s August 2022 unanimous decision in affirming his conviction, sentence and fine meted out by the High Court for the misappropriation of RM42 million of SRC International Sdn Bhd fund.
On July 28, 2020, Justice Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali found him guilty of seven charges: three criminal breach of trust charges, three money-laundering charges and one abuse of power charge at the High Court.
Mohd Nazlan, who is now a Court of Appeal judge, had sentenced Najib to 12 years in jail and fined him RM210 million in default five years imprisonment and his decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal on December 8, 2021.
The hearing resumes February 27.