Zaid: We will not abandon our client Najib

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Denies his firm will withdraw if Najib’s SRC appeal proceeds.

Najib Razak’s new legal team has dismissed reports that it intends to discharge itself from defending the former prime minister in his appeal against his sentence in the RM42 million SRC International Sdn Bhd corruption case, lawyer Zaid Ibrahim said.

He said his firm, Zaid Ibrahim Suflan TH Liew & Partners, did not make any statement during case management in chambers about the firm discharging itself as solicitors.

Azman Ghani/The Star

“We do not abandon our clients. Any media report stating the contrary is mischievous and regrettable,” Zaid said in a Facebook post today.

It was reported yesterday that Zaid’s firm will discharge itself from acting for the Pekan MP if the apex court decides to proceed with the appeal hearing on Monday.

The report said the firm will again seek to postpone Monday’s hearing.

Zaid said his firm agreed to take on this case because Najib has legitimate grievances with regard to his conviction, particularly on matters relating to the rule of law, the law relating to bias, and conflict of interests.

He added that it is the sacred duty of any advocate to represent an accused person with such grievances.

“In doing so, I am not prejudging the case, as any respectable lawyer will attest.

“Passing judgment is the domain of the courts. As lawyers, our duty is to present the client’s case to the best of our ability,” he said.

Zaid also said Najib’s legitimate expectation is that he will get a full and fair hearing before the Federal Court.

It is our duty as his solicitors to enable that process, he said.

Zaid said he regrets the scurrilous attacks made against his firm, and him personally, after he accepted Najib’s case.

He took aim at Sepang MP Hanipa Maidin, who insinuated that lawyers who take on briefs at the last minute are motivated by money.

He said such a statement is unfair.

“I want to state categorically that throughout my career as a lawyer and politician, I have never been motivated by money or position.

“Justice is what matters to me. In any event, it is a preposterous notion that there is never a justification for a last-minute change of lawyers,” he said.

Zaid claimed that in Najib’s cases, there was a genuine need for a change of perspective and a reset of arguments in defence.

On accusations that the change of firm was to just delay the appeal, Zaid told his critics to compare this case to other high-profile cases that have come up before the courts.

“There is no doubt that this case has taken much less time to reach its present stage than most, if not all, of such cases.

“My pompous critics will know whose cases I am referring to,” he said.

Zaid also said this is the first time Najib had changed lawyers in this matter. The lawyer said they are prepared to proceed with the motion for retrial when it comes up for hearing on Monday.

On July 25, Najib discharged Messrs Shafee & Co and took on Messrs Zaid Ibrahim Suflan TH Liew & Partners to represent him in his final appeal at the apex court.

Zaid is former law minister and senator. He was previously an Umno member, but was suspended in 2008, after which he joined DAP.

He founded one of the largest firms in Malaysia, Zaid Ibrahim & Co, but quit the firm in 2008 and now practises under Messrs Zaid Ibrahim Suffian TH Liew & Partners.

Shafee and his firm had represented Najib in the SRC International trial at the High Court and at the Court of Appeal.

The firm is still representing Najib in the ongoing 1Malaysia Development Bhd trial at the High Court.

In 2020, High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali found Najib guilty of seven criminal charges for appropriating RM42 million of SRC International funds.

The judge sentenced him to 12 years in prison and a RM210 million fine. The decision was subsequently upheld by the Court of Appeal. – TMI