The Court of Appeal today dismissed Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s application to adjourn his appeal hearing against his conviction and jail sentence for misappropriation of RM42 million SRC International Sdn Bhd funds.
Court of Appeal Judge Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil in chairing a three-member panel, said there were insufficient grounds to grant such an application after Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah earlier indicated the need for the defence team to be given a one-month adjournment for today’s hearing.
The lawyer said: “We still have the intention to file, our efforts have been sabotaged.”
He said the internet was rife with reports of “Zeti’s husband and son’s SUS$16.291 billion in banks in Singapore…this payment was made from the money raised from the bond issuance of 1MDB.”
The bench led by Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil unanimously rejected the application. The two other judges on the bench were Has Zanah Mehat and Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera.
Karim said Shafee did not present the court with sufficient grounds for an adjournment.
“We are unanimous in this. There is no sufficient reason to adjourn the hearing.
Ad hoc prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram initially objected to the adjournment, arguing that there was no formal application filed by Najib’s defence team with regard to the matter.
“We are seriously objecting to the request for adjournment.
“During case management, any applications should be made before the appeal (hearing) so as to not scuttle the hearing,” he said.
However, Shafee countered that he was not making unsubstantiated claims and said issues he had brought up were all over the internet.
He argued that even netizens had posted that Najib should be given access to the documents to help him prepare his appeal.
“You must have read about it over the internet,” Shafee said, trying to drive home his point.
On March 28, Najib had filed a notice of motion in the High Court to compel the prosecution to produce several banking statements and other documents to his defence team in his RM2.3 billion 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) case.
According to the affidavit, Najib claimed that some of the statements and documents were linked to the companies believed to be related to fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low and Zeti.
Apart from bank statements, Najib is also seeking the companies’ certificate of incumbency, declarations of the identities of the companies’ beneficial owners, registers of members, registers of directors as well as correspondence between the banks and the companies in respect of its transactions, including emails, telegraphic transfers, remittance forms, payment advice, transaction reports, payment orders, credit advice and bank memos.
Earlier, the appeal hearing was delayed as Shafie failed to turn up on time.
The hearing had been set to start at 9am but as the court was called into session on the dot, another of Najib’s lawyer, Harvinderjit Singh stood up and informed the panel of three judges that Shafee had yet to make it there.
He said Shafee had to turn back while on the way to the court after realising that he needed to get some documents.
“He will be here by 9.40am the latest,” he said, before the court stood down to wait for Shafee.
Shafee later apologised for making everyone wait after court reconvened at 9.40am.
In the RM42 million SRC International case, High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali sentenced Najib to 10 years’ jail on each of the three counts of CBT and each of the three counts of money laundering, and 12 years’ jail and a RM210 million fine, in default five years’ jail, in the case of abuse of position on July 28 last year.
However, Najib will only serve 12 years in jail as the judge ordered all the jail sentences to run concurrently.
The Court of Appeal has fixed April 5 to 8, 12 to 15 and April 19 to 22 to hear the appeal.
Najib has submitted 307 grounds in his petition of appeal on why he should be cleared of the charges.
Among the grounds mentioned in the petition is that he had failed to get a fair and just trial in the case.
Najib, 67, is currently out on bail of RM2 million in two sureties pending appeal.
Lawyer V Sithambaram, who has been given a special licence by the attorney-general, is leading the prosecution team. Assisting him are Donald Joseph Franklin, Sulaiman Kho Kheng Fuei and Mohd Ashrof Adrin Kamil.
Shafee will be assisted by Harvinderjit Singh, Farhan Muhammad Shafee and Nur Syahirah Hanapiah.
A total of 21 reporters from local and international media will be given passes to follow the proceedings via a video link in a room.