Court of Appeal judge Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil today advised lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah to use courteous words in criticising High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali who convicted his client, Najib Razak, on charges of misappropriating RM42 million of SRC International Sdn Bhd funds.
Karim, who is leading a three-member bench, told Najib’s counsel Shafee that he could use phrases like “erred in law” and “misdirected himself” to show the weakness in Nazlan’s judgment.
“I think if we can use a better word with due respect to the learned judge… find a better adjective to describe him. Other than you saying ‘poisoned his judgment’, ‘hopelessly incompetent’, can you find another word? Give respect to the judge.
“Use words like ‘grossly erred’, he had ‘erred and flawed’, he ‘misdirected himself’. Don’t just say ‘hopelessly incompetent’,” said Karim, who presided over the appeal with Has Zanah Mehat and Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera.
Shafee: Can I just say the learned judge demonstrated incompetence?
Shafee: Clearly he demonstrated incompetence. That I could say. (Otherwise) I can’t pull punches, as Yang Arif can appreciate. If these things happened, I have to say.
Karim: Just say it (respectfully).
Shafee: … with a bit more decorum. All right.
At the outset, Shafee, in his submissions at the hearing of Najib’s appeal against his conviction and jail sentence for the misappropriation of RM42 million in SRC International funds, said the trial judge had shown incompetence when making the ruling against his client.
“Can we say with the greatest respect, that the learned judge was either hopelessly incompetent in this case, and that is the only explanation I can make as to how a blunder of this sort can happen. That goes to the root of whether or not we have got a fair trial in this case,” the lawyer said.
“Now, I want to add one more ground, namely this: that by incorporating what was not supposed to be there in the grounds of judgment and in the record of proceedings, as in the finding of prima facie has got elements previously not there as though it has always been there, has the judge poisoned his grounds of judgment?
“Has the poison occurred in his grounds of judgment that Yang Arif (this court) would have to re-looked into the grounds fresh, all of us. That is another question I would like to pose,” Shafee said.
The Kuala Lumpur High Court on July 28 last year sentenced Najib to 12 years’ jail and fined him RM210 million after finding him guilty of seven charges of criminal breach of trust (CBT), money laundering and abuse of position involving RM42 million in SRC International funds.
Nazlan sentenced Najib to 10 years’ jail for each of the three counts of CBT and each of the three counts of money laundering and 12 years’ jail and a RM210 million fine, in default of five years’ jail in the case of abuse of position.
The hearing of the appeal continues.