Federal Court has allowed Najib’s bid to amend his application to adduce new evidence to be heard in his SRC case, which pertains to judge Nazlan.
The Federal Court has unanimously allowed the first of former prime minister Najib Razak’s two applications which were fixed for hearing this morning.
The application, which was filed on July 16, sought various amendments to the substantive notice of motion filed two months ago seeking the admission of fresh evidence to Najib’s SRC International corruption appeal which he says shows that judge Nazlan Ghazali presided over the trial while under a “serious conflict of interest”.
The amendments will allow Najib’s legal team to seek the admission of more evidence, including oral evidence from former 1MDB CEO Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, and MACC investigator Rosli Hussein, who is said to have recorded a statement from Nazlan during investigations.
Others whose evidence are being sought via the amendments are MACC officers Mohamed Zamri Zainul Abidin and Asrul Ridzuan Ahmad Rustami as well as assistant investigating officer, Noor Syazana Kamin.
The decision of the apex court was delivered by Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, who is heading a five-member bench comprising Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim as well as apex court judges Nallini Pathmanathan, Mary Lim and Mohamad Zabidin Diah.
The merits of the substantive application were not considered in coming to this decision, the chief justice said.
Earlier, lead defence counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik submitted that the evidence relating to trial judge Nazlan’s purported conflict of interest was not made available to them during the criminal trial.
Hisyam said that fresh evidence was allegedly delivered anonymously in envelopes to Najib between May 9 and July 7.
Through the fresh evidence bid, which seeks to nullify Najib’s conviction and sentencing in the SRC case, the appellant claimed that Nazlan was potentially biased due to a purported conflict of interest as Nazlan had been a general counsel at Maybank.
Despite having officially withdrawn his bribery claims against Nazlan, Najib stuck to his guns over Nazlan’s purported conflict of interest.
Najib was convicted by Nazlan on July 28, 2020 on seven charges of abuse of power and misappropriation of RM42 million in SRC International funds after a 76-day trial. He was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment and fined RM210 million.
His conviction and sentence were upheld by the Court of Appeal on Dec 8 last year but have been stayed pending the disposal of the present appeal to the Federal Court from that decision.
In countering the submissions from Hisyam, Ad hoc prosecutor V Sithambaram said Najib’s application was self-serving as it was made and filed, yet none of the five witnesses who would supposedly supported the evidence was putting their neck out by signing affidavits.
Sithambaram pointed out that Najib was relying on statements by three Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and two Maybank officers to support the application.
“The allegations against Justice Mohd Nazlan’s conflict of interest is based on flimsy grounds of 1MDB’s loan from Maybank.
He said these officers had not told Najib what actually transpired during their investigation of High Court judge Nazlan Ghazali.
“It could even amount to a hearsay upon hearsay,” he said, adding that Najib’s application was merely a camouflage to fish for evidence.
“It is imperative to note that SRC was never a customer of Maybank nor had SRC taken any loan from Maybank to suggest any possible conflict of interest with Justice Mohd Nazlan,” the prosecution said.
The prosecution also contended that Nazlan’s previous appointment with Maybank was no secret as the information was available in the public domain, hence it was preposterous to claim that it was a fact “recently discovered” or “deliberately suppressed”.
“News agencies such as Malaysiakini, The News Straits Times (NST) and The Star have brought Justice Mohd Nazlan’s career background, including the Maybank employment to the attention of the public before the commencement of the SRC trial,” Sithambaram said.
Hisyam will reply to Sithambaram’s submissions tomorrow.