The Federal Court has set aside a stay order on the trial of former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak over the money laundering charges involving SRC International Sdn Bhd.
The Kuala Lumpur High Court will have to set a date for the highly anticipated trial which should have begun on Feb 11 but was delayed pending the disposal of several appeals by the accused.
Today, a seven-member Federal Court bench, led by Chief Justice Richard Malanjum, unanimously ruled that the stay order issued by the Court of Appeal last week was invalid.
“We are of the view that the (Court of Appeal) had no jurisdiction (to do so),” said Malanjum, who read out the decision.
The decision was made after the judges heard submissions from both Najib’s counsel Harvinderjit Singh and Attorney-General Tommy Thomas.
After Malanjum read the decision, Harvinderjit made an oral application to the Federal Court for a stay order on the proceeding until next Thursday, citing Section 80 of the Courts Judicature Act.
The lawyer said he applied for a stay until the date, which had been fixed for another hearing on appeals by both the prosecution and defence counsels over Court of Appeal’s decisions on four matters pertaining to the case.
However, this application was dismissed by Malanjum, saying that there was no basis for the application.
Meanwhile, veteran lawyer V Sithambaram, who is a member of the prosecution team, told reporters outside the court that they would be writing to the Kuala Lumpur High Court as soon as possible to set a date for the SRC trial’s case management.
The High Court would decide on the trial dates during the case management.
“Now the stay at Court of Appeal has been set aside. So it means there is no impediment for the trial to start.
“The order of the (federal) court is for us to contact the High Court registry for the purpose of fixing a case management date, and fixing trial dates, so we will be doing it immediately,” he said.
He said that April 3 had been previously set for the trial’s case management, but the prosecution plans to request for an earlier date as “the case had been dragged for long”.
The case management date could be as early as tomorrow or Friday, said Sithambaram.
However, when asked if it is possible for the trial to start by this week, he replied in the negative saying that it would be too short to issue subpoena to witnesses, among others.
Last week, a three-member Court of Appeal in Kuala Lumpur allowed an application by Harvinderjit to stay the SRC International hearing.
Harvinderjit made the application after the apellate court dismissed Najib’s three out of four appeals, namely to have a gag order against the media from discussing his case, wanting more documents to the case, and questioning the transfer of the case from the Sessions Court to the High Court.
Following the stay order, the Attorney-General’s Chambers had also filed their appeal with the Federal Court to seek for it to be lifted. – Malaysiakini