The appointment of Gopal Sri Ram as the deputy public prosecutor in the 1MDB-linked cases was to get the former premier Najib Abdul Razak charged and convicted, said lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.
Shafee, who represented Najib, said this in his submission to the High Court in Kuala Lumpur in a bid to disqualify Sri Ram in the money laundering amounting to RM2.28 billion and 1MDB audit report tampering cases.
“The appointment of Sri Ram was particularly navigated with the purpose to get Najib charged and convicted,” Shafee said before the judge, Mariana Yahaya.
He cited how a disclosure made by former A-G Apandi in an affidavit submitted to court had noted that Sri Ram allegedly said that the mere fact that monies are in Najib’s account by itself was sufficient to charge the former prime minister.
Shafee argued that it’s not important for Sri Ram whether Najib knows the source of the money, either it was from SRC International or 1MDB, as Sri Ram only wanted Najib to be charged first.
“Did he know whether the money came from SRC or 1MDB? All of this did not matter to him. What’s important is to get Najib charged,” he said.
For the record, Sri Ram also acted as the lead prosecutor for Shafee’s money laundering case involving RM9.5 million.
Mariana is also hearing Shafee’s own separate judicial review application to disqualify Sri Ram from the lawyer’s own criminal case.
Referring to Sri Ram, Najib’s another counsel Harvinderjit Singh argued that the public prosecutor does not have the power to appoint a lawyer as a part-time deputy public prosecutor and a practising lawyer at the same time.
“The exercise of the power under section 376 (of the Criminal Procedure Code) (to appoint Sri Ram) is wrong. It’s unreasonable, irrational, and considerably improper,” Harvinderjit said.
He said the appointment of Sri Ram as the DPP was also to fulfil Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto to haul Najib to court in relation to 1MDB.
Meanwhile, senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan, in his submission, said that the appointment of Sri Ram, who’s also a former Federal Court judge, is in accordance with the law.
“It is respectfully submitted that the language of Section 376 (3) (of CPC) is broad and permissive of the appointment of Sri Ram as a senior deputy public prosecutor.
“Section 376(3) CPC does not expressly limit the potential senior deputy public prosecutor from only among the legal officers serving under the judicial and legal service.”
Shamsul added, “The government, like any private party, can choose and appoint or authorise any advocate to appear on their behalf in any court of law.
“[…] It is respectfully submitted that it is a sheer intellectual waste to engage in a hair-splitting argument on the legality of Sri Ram’s appointment under Section 376(3) CPC.”
Mariana fixed July 29 for further submission.