Senior Lawyers Quit Najib’s Defence Team

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Several of Najib Razak’s senior lawyers, including former solicitor-general Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden and Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin, are no longer representing the former prime minister in the SRC International Sdn Bhd trial, sources told The Malaysian Insight.

Seth Akmal/TMI

Senior lawyer Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin.

A member of Najib’s legal team confirmed that the two men are no longer actively involved in the trial, which began on April 3.

“Yusof, Kamarul and their team are no longer part of the court proceedings for the SRC International case as the prosecution’s case is at its tail end.

“But, we are actively engaging them on the technical aspects of the case towards our final submission.”

On why the men left, the lawyer said it is a matter of privilege between them and their client, declining to comment further.

The Malaysian Insight has attempted to contact the two.

The lawyers known to be on Yusof’s team are Chong Loong Men, Devanandan S Subramaniam and Tiara Katrina Fuad.

The senior counsel has been notably absent for two weeks since the hearing on July 24 was adjourned due to a lack of senior lawyers to cross-examine prosecution witness Joanna Yu.

Seth Akmal/TMI

Former solicitor-general Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden.

Yusof was roped in to represent Najib when Harpal Singh Grewal and M Athimulan withdrew on May 22 last year, mere hours before Najib was questioned by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission in Putrajaya.

Yusof withdrew the following month but re-joined the defence by the time the SRC International trial began in earnest in April.

Najib was then represented by a dozen lawyers led by Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

The line-up comprised Yusof, Kamarul, Chong, Devanandan, Tiara Katrina, Harvinderjit Singh, Farhan Read, Muhammad Farhan Shafee, Wan Aizuddin Wan Mohammed, Rahmat Hazlan, Nur Syahirah Hanapiah and Zahria Eleena Redza.

The prosecution’s case is entering its final leg with one witness yet to be called before both sides present their final submissions, which are expected by August 15.

Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali will then decide whether there is a prima facie case against Najib.

If that is established, Najib will be asked to enter his defence, after which the trial enters its second phase with the defence calling its witnesses to the stand.

The defence has said it will appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision on Monday allowing the 1Malaysia Development Bhd trial to start on August 19.

Shafee had told the court that the defence wanted the SRC International trial to conclude first.

Najib’s SRC International charges are linked to RM4 billion in loans issued to the entity in 2011 and 2012, for which he is accused of receiving RM42 million in his accounts in 2014 and 2015.

The 66-year-old has been slapped with three counts of criminal breach of trust, three counts of money-laundering and one count of abuse of power.

He faces a further 25 criminal charges involving 1MDB funds amounting to RM2.28 billion in the coming trial, which will be heard before Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah. – TMI