Judge: Apandi disinterested, self-contradictory on Saudi donation

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Apandi’s own testimony exhibited a plain, disinterested, evasive and disassociated attitude to investigate the donation further.

Judge’s observations of Apandi:

  • Disinterest and indifference to elementary rule of law and even common sense
  • Self-contradictory testimony, evasiveness and outright untruth
  • Bent the truth about the meeting and recording of the statement by the alleged Saudi donor
  • Admittance of the donation narrative, although in gross absence of direct evidence
  • Disinterested, evasive and disassociated attitude to investigate the donation further
  • Failure to remember the name of the Saudi royal donor
  • Insistence on closing investigations, although the task force recommended continued investigations

Former attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali was seemingly disinterested and occasionally contradicted himself when testifying in the defamation suit against DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang, the Kuala Lumpur High Court observed.

In a 100-page judgment released on Thursday (July 21), the court noted that it was strikingly evident that Apandi showed disinterest and indifference to elementary rule of law and even common sense.

This was observed by judge Azimah Omar when Apandi was repeatedly questioned by Lim’s lawyer over absolving Najib Abdul Razak over accepting the argument that the amount of more than RM2.6 billion that the former prime minister received was from Saudi royalty.

“Although with the utmost respect, this court is pressed to express its disdain to the sordid extent of the plaintiff’s self-contradictory testimony, evasiveness and outright untruth.

“It is not exactly rocket science to appreciate the issue of the RM2.6 billion (which Apandi had declared as a donation) would be the core and fulcrum to his very own case swings and tilts by.

“It would be a grave remiss if the plaintiff were to avail himself to this court, without being candid and without being fully equipped to the brim to justify his magnanimous decision to prefer the donation narrative to exonerate Najib,” the judge said, as quoted by The Edge.

In her judgment, Azimah added that the former attorney-general had also contradicted himself during questioning by Lim’s legal counsel when asked about his 2016 press conference where Apandi had accepted the donation narrative and absolved Najib.

The judge pointed out that the MACC and other task forces had recommended criminal charges or at least an in-depth investigation into the “fantastical donation” and SRC International Sdn Bhd.

She noted that Apandi had said the MACC itself had met and recorded statements from the donors.

Total contradiction

However, during cross-examination, Apandi admitted that the delegation did not meet nor speak to the alleged donor, testifying that the “Saudi Prince refused to meet anybody”, she said.

She noticed that this was contradictory to his press statement in which Apandi had announced that a delegation had flown to Riyadh and personally met the alleged donor himself.

The contradiction is not merely an error but instead a total contradiction. It is indeed suspicious and reasonable to ponder the necessity to be deceptive about the critical proof of the alleged donation by the Saudi royal family.

“Why would Apandi bend the truth about the meeting and recording [of] the statement by the alleged donor?

“Why would the former AG declare to the world that the delegation met the donor (and obtained confirmation from the donor), while it was well within his knowledge that his delegation did not even speak or meet with the fabled donor?

“The court is utterly confounded by the plaintiff’s testimony admitting to adopting the donation narrative as a whole, although in gross absence of direct evidence and in preference to the delegation’s hearsay evidence.

“It is right there that Apandi’s own testimony exhibited a plain, disinterested, evasive and disassociated attitude to investigate the donation further,” she said.

Azimah further reprimanded Apandi for failing to remember the name of the Saudi royal donor who had allegedly made the donation, which she said was critical information and justified Lim’s grounds for investigating Apandi.

On May 23, the High Court dismissed the civil suit, ruling that Lim was justified in his statement urging Apandi to answer why he had absolved Najib of the 1MDB affair in 2016.

‘Lim was justified’

Apandi’s suit was over the 2019 article “Dangerous fallacy to think Malaysia’s on the road to integrity”, which was published on his blog.

Azimah noted that Lim was justified in raising the issue, especially following Najib’s conviction by a separate High Court in 2020 in the RM42 million SRC International corruption case, which decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal last year.

The lower court also ordered Apandi to pay RM80,000 in legal costs to Lim.

Touching on the judgment in Najib’s conviction in 2020, Azimah noted that she did not intend to re-litigate the facts in that case.

“But it is well within this court’s jurisdiction to appreciate and consider these facts,” she said.

Azimah also questioned Apandi’s move to cite no further action (NFA) in the investigation papers against Najib, following his press conference, where he had announced that he did not intend to bar any further investigation from the agencies.

“The court is inclined to agree that NFA means Apandi had closed investigations. How can the plaintiff insist that the investigations are closed when he has already come to the conclusion that Najib has done no wrong and is receiving the ‘fantastical’ donation narrative?

“His (Apandi’s) own witness had testified that the plaintiff has insisted on concluding investigations, although the task force recommended continued investigations,” she said.

On July 5, 2019, Apandi filed a civil suit, alleging that on May 6, 2019, Lim had written the alleged defamatory article.

He claimed that the article implied, among others, that he was involved in the 1MDB financial scandal, was a person with no morals and integrity, was unethical, and had abused his power when he was attorney-general from July 27, 2015, to June 4, 2018.

Bernama

During the hearing of the civil action in April last year, Apandi broke down in court while testifying against Lim.

In a civil suit for defamation, justification is a defence that the statements or allegations are factual, and if proven successful in court, this would act as an absolute defence against legal action.

It was reported on May 30 that the former attorney-general filed an appeal in the lawsuit against Lim. – Malaysiakini


Earlier report:

Jul 22, Judge: Kit Siang’s defence enough to defeat Apandi’s RM10m defamation suit