Shafee reprimanded for describing High Court judge Nazlan as “hopelessly incompetent” and criticising the conviction ruling as “poisoned judgment”.
The Court of Appeal today reprimanded lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah for using inappropriate words to criticise High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali who found Datuk Seri Najib Razak guilty of misappropriating RM42 million of SRC International Sdn Bhd funds.
Court of Appeal judge Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil, who is chairing a three-member panel, then asked Shafee if he could be more courteous in his choice of words to describe the shortcomings in Mohd Nazlan’s judgment against Najib.
Shafee had earlier appeared in the appeal hearing against Najib’s conviction and jail sentence for misappropriation of RM42 million SRC International Sdn Bhd funds.
“Please use polite words like ‘erred in law’, ‘misdirected’ to show where he (Nazlan) had gone wrong.
“No need to use phrases like ‘hopelessly incompetent’ and ‘poisoned his judgment’,” said Karim who is sitting alongside Court of Appeal judges Datuk Has Zanah Mehat and Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera.
Earlier today, Shafee was submitting that when Najib was ordered to enter his defence on all seven charges on Nov 11, 2019, Nazlan’s oral grounds of judgment stated that the prosecution succeeded in establishing a prima facie case.
“It is highly improper and prejudicial to the accused,” Shafee submitted, adding that there was also serious misdirection by Nazlan.
The lawyer claimed that the insertion of the additional reasons was illegal and showed that the judge was biased.
“The judge is hopelessly incompetent, resulting in the blunder,” Shafee claimed, contending that Najib was denied a fair trial.
He said the trial judge had incorporated additional elements in his grounds of judgment and record of proceedings, and questioned whether the judge had poisoned his own judgment by doing so.
“Has the poison occurred to his grounds of judgment that the Court of Appeal would now have to relook into the grounds, fresh?” Muhammad Shafee said.
At the beginning of the appeal on Monday (April 5), Muhammad Shafee submitted that Justice Mohd Nazlan had stated that the prosecution had established a prima facie case in his oral grounds.
However, in his written judgment after convicting Najib, the judge had included additional reasons why his client was asked to enter his defence, Muhammad Shafee said.
He said consequent to Nazlan’s “incompetency” was a breach of natural justice as Najib must be notified of the exact case against him in order for the defence to provide rebuttals and explanations.
On July 28 last year, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur convicted Najib on one count of abuse of power, three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT), and three counts of money laundering in relation to RM42 million of funds from SRC.
Nazlan had then sentenced Najib to 12 years in jail and a fine of RM210 million.
However, the High Court allowed Najib’s defence team’s application to stay the execution of the sentence, pending the disposal of his appeal.
SRC was a former subsidiary of sovereign wealth fund 1MDB. The company later became fully owned by the Minister of Finance Incorporated.
Besides being prime minister at the time, Najib was also the finance minister, advisor emeritus of SRC, and chairperson of 1MDB’s board of advisers.
Najib, 68, is currently out on bail of RM2 million in two sureties pending appeal.