Speculation is rife that the court case of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak is to be heard by a new judge.
After the case was heard earlier this month before High Court judge Datuk Mohd Sophian Abdul Razak, reports emerged that he is the younger brother of Pahang state executive councillor and Benta Umno assemblyman Datuk Seri Mohd Soffi Abdul Razak.
Najib, who is also from Pahang, is the former Umno president and the current Pekan Umno division chief. He is also Pekan MP.
The Malaysian Bar has called for Sophian to recuse himself because of his ties to Umno while Attorney-General Tommy Thomas said he did know of such ties.
Najib’s case is to be heard at the High Court on Aug 8, after he had claimed trial to three counts of criminal breach of trust and another charge of abuse of power involving RM42 million linked to SRC International Sdn Bhd, a former subsidiary of 1Malaysia Development Berhad.
Najib is represented by senior lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah while Thomas leads the prosecution.
According to Malaysiakini, Sophian is to be transferred to the Kuala Lumpur High Court Commercial Crime division effective from August 1.
It also said High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, who was appointed a judicial commissioner in April 2015 and is presently at the Commercial Division, is to be transferred laterally to the Kuala Lumpur High Court criminal division effective from Wednesday.
Reportedly, the circular on the two transfers has been issued.
However, it is not certain if Nazlan would be presiding over Najib’s case.
Justice Nazlan, 51, is an alumnus of the Malay College Kuala Kangsar and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Jurisprudence and a Master of Arts from Oxford. He is a Barrister at Law of Lincoln’s Inn.
After practising law at Zaid Ibrahim & Co for five years, he served at the Securities Commission as its head of enforcement before he moved to Maybank where he was head of Corporate & Legal Services, General Counsel and Executive Vice-President before joining the judiciary.