The Kuala Lumpur High Court has dismissed former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s challenge to the appointment of Datuk Sulaiman Abdullah as lead prosecutor in his corruption case involving SRC International.
Justice Mohd Nazlan said Najib’s request for a fiat (decree or authorisation) by the attorney-general for Sulaiman’s appointment is not required by law.
He added that Attorney-General Tommy Thomas was “crystal clear” about Sulaiman’s appointment in a press statement issued on August 31.
While the press statement is not the same as a fiat, said Nazlan, it made clear Sulaiman’s appointment at the discretion of the attorney-general.
“I consider this application (by Najib) to be less than meritorious,” Nazlan said.Najib was seated in the dock throughout today’s hearing.
His lawyer, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, said he will appeal the court’s dismissal of his client’s challenge against Sulaiman.
On July 4, the former prime minister was charged with three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT) and one charge of abuse of power involving SRC International funds of RM42 million.
Subsequently, on Aug 8, Najib was charged with three counts of money laundering involving the same funds.
Najib later challenged Sulaiman’s appointment as the lead prosecutor in his case.
Meanwhile, Shafee has filed an application to recuse former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram from leading the prosecution team in his RM9.5 million money laundering case.
Shafee faces two counts of receiving proceeds from unlawful activities from Najib and two counts of making false declarations to the Inland Revenue Board.
Deputy public prosecutor Muhammad Izzat Fauzan told reporters the defence had filed the application to disqualify Sri Ram, who was appointed senior deputy public prosecutor, from leading the prosecution.
“The defence has submitted the notice of motion and affidavit to the prosecution. The court set Jan 22 next year for the prosecution to file the affidavit in reply to the application,” he said after case proceeding, held in the chambers of High Court deputy registrar Farah Azura Mohd Saad here today.
He added that case management had been fixed for Jan 24 before judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah.
Lawyer Sarah Abishegam who represents Shafee said the defence filed the application to recuse Sri Ram last week.
During a proceeding before Sessions Court judge Azura Alwi on Sept 13, Shafee told the court he would file a formal application to disqualify Sri Ram from conducting the trial.
Shafee said he would seek Sri Ram’s recusal on grounds that the latter was representing PKR president Anwar Ibrahim in the Court of Appeal in relation to the same RM9.5 million allegation.
He said Sri Ram was therefore not independent and had an agenda.
He also said he did not want Sri Ram involved in the case in any way, adding that his relationship with the former judge was not good.
“We do not have a very pleasant relationship. We pretend to be civil to each other in court,” he said.
On Aug 31, A-G Tommy Thomas announced the appointment of Sri Ram as senior deputy public prosecutor to assist with 1MDB-linked cases.
Thomas said the appointment of Sri Ram was in line with Section 376 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code in view of the latter’s experience in criminal law. He added that Sri Ram would be serving the government on a pro bono basis.