TOMORROW (Aug 15), the country’s highest court is scheduled to hear former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s appeal against his conviction and sentence for misappropriation of RM42 mil of SRC International Sdn Bhd funds.
It is Najib’s final appeal after a three-man bench of the Court of Appeal on Dec 8 last year upheld the Pekan MP’s conviction and sentence of a 12-year jail term and RM210 mil fine imposed on him by then High Court Judge Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali on July 28, 2020.
It is understood that the Federal Court will first hear Najib’s application to adduce new evidence in the SRC case in his bid to ultimately seek a retrial.
If Najib fails in this application, the Federal Court is expected to proceed with the hearing of the former premiere’s appeal against his conviction and sentence.
The court has fixed Aug 15 to 19 and 23 to 26 to hear the appeal.
The 69-year-old politician changed his legal team just 21 days prior to the appeal, appointing prominent criminal lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik as his lead counsel and law firm Zaid Ibrahim Suflan TH Liew & Partners’ (ZIST) partners Liew Teck Huat and Rueben Mathiavaranam as his new solicitors for the appeal.
Messrs Shafee & Co, led by Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, had represented Najib in the SRC case from the day he was charged. However, on July 26, Najib discharged Shafee and his firm from representing him in his final appeal.
On July 26, Najib’s new lawyers requested the Federal Court postpone the appeal hearing as a “wholly new team” has taken over the SRC case.
However, on July 28, the Federal Court, in a letter, rejected the postponement bid and directed that the appeal hearing starts on Aug 15 as scheduled.
“94 grounds why he should be freed”
Najib has submitted 94 grounds in his petition of appeal on why he should be freed of the charges.
Among the grounds mentioned in the petition is that both the Court of Appeal and High Court erred in fact and/or law by failing to properly evaluate evidence and failing to recognise the differences between proven and unproven facts, and between inferences that might permissibly be drawn and mere conjecture based on suggestion, unsubstantiated allegations, conjecture, suspicion and hearsay.
The former prime minister was charged on July 4, 2018, an unprecedented case in the nation’s judicial history.
On July 28, 2020, Judge Mohd Nazlan, who is now a Court of Appeal judge, sentenced Najib to 10 years’ jail on each of the three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT) and each of the three counts of money laundering.
He also sentenced the former finance minister to 12 years in jail and an RM210 mil fine, in default of five years in jail, in the case of abuse of position.
However, Najib would have to serve only 12 years in jail as the judge ordered all the jail sentences to run concurrently.
Najib is currently out on an RM2 mil bail pending his appeal.
Ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram will appear for the respondent (public prosecutor) while counsels Hisyam, Liew and Ruebena are representing Najib as the appellant. — Aug 14, 2022
Main photo credit: Bernama