Strong objections to vacating hearing involving Najib’s bid to appoint QC

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Judge ruled hearing would go on.

The prosecution, along with the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC), Malaysian Bar and Kuala Lumpur Bar Councils today put on a united front to oppose an application to postpone the hearing of arguments involving Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s bid to appoint a Queen’s Counsel (QC) to represent him.

This happened after one of Najib’s counsels, Harvinderjit Singh pleaded for today’s hearing to be vacated until tomorrow as lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah was unwell and could not attend court.

However, High Court Judge Datuk Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid later ruled the hearing would go on and ordered Harvinderjit to argue on behalf of Shafee.

Earlier, Harvinderjit said Shafee was down with laryngitis and needed to rest, before pointing out the senior lawyer had been given medical leave from July 4 to 10.

“I apologise for this. He wanted to be here but he is still unwell…it is not like we are trying to delay this purposely.

“All I am asking is for him to be given some time to rest and for this application to be heard tomorrow. We will be here tomorrow come hell or high water,” he said.

Earlier, lead prosecutor Datuk V Sithambaram and the other three parties vehemently objected to Harvinderjit’s request for today’s hearing be vacated.

Sithambaram said all parties had previously agreed to the application being heard today as Shafee wanted to go on an overseas trip beginning Friday.

“I had then said we needed to fix at least two days before he flies off just because I anticipated this to happen.

“I prophesied that this would happen and it has. We need to bring this to a conclusion,” he said.

Meanwhile, Datuk Dr Gurdial Singh Nijar who represented the Kuala Lumpur Bar said it was discourteous of the applicant to seek the adjournment of today’s hearing at the last minute.

He said the applicant first had everyone in court waiting as they indicated Shafee would turn up by 10am only to later say he can’t make it and the hearing should be adjourned till tomorrow.

“I find this very discourteous,” he said.

Malaysian Bar representative Datuk Bastian Vendargon and a Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) from the AGC earlier also stood in agreement with Sithambaram’s objection to any attempt to delay today’s hearing

Justice Kamal later ruled that the hearing should go on after agreeing with the respondents that there were other counsels, including Harvinderjit, who were capable of arguing on behalf of Shafee.

Kamal said he sympathised with Shafee’s health condition but today’s date had been set with everyone’s agreement.

He also pointed out that the application needed to be heard as the Federal Court was scheduled to hear Najib’s appeal from Aug 15 onwards.

Najib is seeking to have QC Jonathan Laidlaw represent him in his final SRC International Sdn Bhd appeal at the Federal Court but this is being objected to by the prosecution along with the other three parties.

Najib was found guilty of abusing his power and misappropriating RM42 million of SRC International funds and sentenced to 12 years in jail, and fined RM210 million by High Court Judge Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali.

The former prime minister has since appealed his conviction and sentences at the Federal Court after the Court of Appeal unanimously upheld the High Court’s verdict on Dec 8 last year, but allowed a stay of sentencing pending his final appeal. – NST