After the Kuala Lumpur High Court delivers its verdict on Najib Razak’s SRC International case on July 28, the ensuing appeals process will be exhausted in a year, said ad hoc prosecutor V Sithambaram.
Sithambaram, who now leads the prosecution team following the departure of former attorney-general Tommy Thomas, believes the Federal Court will ultimately decide Najib’s fate.
“How the defence, or even the prosecution, wants to evaluate the case is up to them. Whatever the verdict on July 28, it’s not the final verdict. Until the Federal Court finally gives its judgment, it is anybody’s case,” Sithambaram told reporters after the trial’s final proceeding today.
Presiding high court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, a 52-year-old Oxford graduate with banking experience, said he will deliver his verdict on July 28 after evaluating more than 2,000 pages of submissions by lawyers from both sides.
The judge ruled last November, halfway through the trial, that the prosecution had established a prima facie case – or a guilty presumption until proven otherwise – against Najib, who was ordered to call his defence.
The trial, which began on April 3, last year, saw 57 prosecution witnesses and 19 from the defence called to testify, with 807 exhibits filed as evidence.
Sithambaram told reporters that notes of evidence will need to be compiled after a verdict should an appeal be filed by the losing party – normally within 14 days.
“Once that is ready and sent to the Court of Appeal, the court will arrange for case management within a month and they will fix a date for hearing and thereafter given directions for us to file written submissions.
“This appeal will take approximately four to six months, and thereafter, whoever is the losing party will file (to the Federal Court), with another round of appeals taking another four to six months.
“All in all, I expect the longest – about a year for this case to finally be determined. Earliest – eight months if not a year. That is the estimate, I think. It all depends on the preparation of the record of appeal and the grounds of judgment.”
Lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who also later held a press conference, said he welcomed the time frame.
“I am hoping it is that speedy. We are very confident that the ultimate result will be in our favour. We are so confident of it. You can hear from our submission. It is not a hollow narrative. The prosecution had so many problems in their case.”
Najib faces seven charges for receiving RM42 million in SRC International funds between December 24, 2014 and February 6, 2015.
The former prime minister is charged with three counts of criminal breach of trust, three counts of money-laundering and one count of abuse of power.
Najib, who turns 67 next month, faces up to 20 years imprisonment, if found guilty. If Najib is convicted on July 28, Nazlan can allow an application by the defence to stay the execution – or to delay carrying out the jail sentence – until the appeals process has been exhausted.
Najib stands to lose his Pekan parliamentary seat if found guilty. – TMI