Prosecution: Najib disrupted his own appeal with last-minute change of lawyers

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Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 11th-hour move to change his legal team before the final appeal in the SRC International trial had frustrated his own case, the prosecution says.

Lead prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram said while it was his (Najib’s) right to change lawyers, the new counsel must be ready to take on the case with the dates already fixed by the court.

“They attempted to ‘change horses’ in mid-stream. And they changed it too near to the hearing date.

“If not for the appellant’s attempt in changing horses, we would not be here today,” the prosecutor told a five-judge panel headed by Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Justice Abdul Rahman Sebli at the Federal Court here on Monday (Feb 27).

Other judges on the bench were Federal Court judges Justices Vernon Ong Lam Kiat, Rhodzariah Bujang and Nordin Hassan, and Court of Appeal judge Justice Abu Bakar Jais.

Sithambaram said one could not simply change lawyers to those who were not willing to proceed with the scheduled hearing or this would open the floodgates for others to seek adjournment.

“This will lead to problems in the administration of justice,” he added.

During the SRC International final appeal in August, Najib’s then lead counsel Datuk Hisyam Teh Poh Teik had sought an adjournment of the proceedings for three to four months as he had only taken over the matter several weeks earlier.


Najib had earlier discharged his long-time law firm Messrs Shafee & Co and replaced it with Messrs Zaid Ibrahim Suflan TH Liew & Partners (ZIST).

The five-judge panel, chaired by Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, however gave a firm “no” to the request.

Hisyam then refused to make any submission on Najib’s behalf up until the Federal Court’s decision that affirmed and upheld Najib’s conviction and sentence.

In his submission last week, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah submitted that Hisyam said he (Hisyam) had misjudged the timing and it was not Najib’s fault.

Najib is seeking leave to review the Federal Court’s decision of Aug 23 which upheld the Kuala Lumpur High Court’s decision to convict and sentence him to 12 years in jail and a RM210mil fine in the RM42mil SRC International case.

On Sept 6, he applied for leave to review the Federal Court’s decision, claiming a “miscarriage of justice” in his case. – The Star