KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 19 — Lawyer Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has today claimed to be unaware that lawyers in criminal cases needed permission from the courts to recuse themselves from any cases they were handling.
In a lengthy Facebook post, he expressed his disappointment and surprise that the Federal Court refused to grant his firm time to prepare themselves to defend former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak which resulted in the latter discharging his law firm Zaid Ibrahim, Sufian, TH Liew & Partners from acting as his solicitors in his final appeal against his conviction for power and financial abuses of SRC International Sdn Bhd.
"I have learnt many things over the last few weeks. For instance, I did not know that lawyers in criminal cases must get permission from the courts to discharge themselves, which I believe is a startling new legal proposition.
"Neither did I appreciate that inflexibility and rigidity were essential ingredients of justice. I always thought the foremost ingredients of justice were fairness, reasonableness and compassion and that these took precedence over administrative efficiency," said Zaid.
Najib previously dropped his counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah and the rest of his defence team from representing him in the case on July 25.
The next day, he appointed Hisyam Teh Poh Teik as his counsel from the firm of the same name, and Liew Teck Huat and Rueben Mathiavaranam, the two partners in Zaid Ibrahim, Suflan, TH Liew & Partners’ as his solicitors.
After failing to get more time to handle his appeal the court heard today that Najib would discharge Zaid's firm from his case.
No reasons were given as to the firm's discharge.
Najib explained that he opted to discharge Muhammad Shafee and his team after losing both his case and his appeal at the High Court and the Court of Appeal respectively.
Zaid in explaining why he took Najib's case said he believes Najib had strong evidence to suggest there was bias during his sentencing by Judge Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.
He however said he still stands by Najib and took a shot at those who condemned him for taking up the case in the first place.
"On a personal note, I learnt who my real friends are. Retired judge Mahadev Shanker ranks very highly among them. Not, though, are those who besmirched my character because my work has sometimes involved taking up unpopular causes.
"Nonetheless, I will always remain to be determined not to be shaken off my core beliefs. I will always fight for justice, whether for the ordinary man or for the King. In doing so, I will also want to ensure that justice is not only done but also seen to be done," he added.
The hearing at the country’s supreme court had been scheduled to take place over nine days, from August 15 to August 19, and will resume after this weekend from August 23 to August 26.
August 15 and 16 were spent hearing Najib’s bid to add new evidence and seek a postponement that was ultimately disallowed by the Federal Court. The court then fixed August 18 as the start of the main SRC International appeal hearing.
The case is now at the Federal Court, and it is Najib’s last chance to convince the judges that his conviction and punishment should be overturned.