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Lawyer tells why Najib wants to appoint Queen’s Counsel in SRC appeal

Muhammad Shafee Abdullah also says that time will be needed to translate the notes and court documents to English for the Queen's Counsel.

3 minute read
Former prime minister Najib Razak. Photo: Bernama
Former prime minister Najib Razak. Photo: Bernama

Najib Razak’s lawyer says the former prime minister wishes to appoint a Queen’s Counsel from the UK as such a lawyer would have the experience and expertise to assist him in the complex issues and legal questions surrounding his appeal to strike out his conviction, 12-year jail sentence and RM210 million fine in his SRC International case at the Federal Court.

In a six-page letter to the secretariat of Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat made available to the media yesterday, Najib’s lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said since the appeal involve complex issues and questions of law which were considered novel in Malaysia and the Commonwealth, Najib required advice and expertise from an experienced Queen’s Counsel who has dealt with such matters before.

He said the appointment of a Queen’s Counsel would be on an ad hoc basis after admission is received from the court in Malaysia.

He also said they were asking the Federal Court not to set an early hearing date for Najib’s appeal as they needed time to translate the notes and court documents linked to the case from Malay to English, so that the Queen’s Counsel could be briefed on the appeal

“Hence, the appellant requires time after receiving the records of appeal to supply the same to the Queen’s Counsel in London,” he said.

Shafee added that parties had yet to receive the full record of appeal concerning the case and that there were already 121 volumes of documents from the High Court and the Court of Appeal, indicating that these might increase in the apex court.

“Since parties have not been provided with the full record of appeal, the appellant cannot prepare a complete petition of appeal as we have to go through the appeal records,” he said, adding that they would need an extension of time to file the petition of appeal.

“Therefore, we believe that fixing an early date to hear his appeal will be greatly prejudicial to the appellant, especially considering the fact that (it) is the final appeal.

“The appellant should be given ample time to prepare instead of being rushed into it. The appellant feels his appeal is being rushed for no good reason. Perception is very important to the image of the judiciary,” he added.

On Najib’s two appeals, to adduce fresh evidence and the main appeal, Shafee said it was necessary to have separate hearings with a significant time gap between the two processes.

“We respectfully seek Yang Amat Arif’s kind consideration for an appropriate allocation of time for both appeals. We gravely doubt any dates in April, May or June can be workable.

“However, the additional evidence appeal can be agreed on the current date that has been fixed,” he said.

On Monday, the court fixed March 15 and 16 to hear Najib’s appeal to adduce new evidence. The court also set Jan 28 for case management to determine the next step for the main appeal.

On Dec 7 last year, the Court of Appeal dismissed Najib’s application to adduce new evidence in his appeal, ruling that Najib had failed to cumulatively satisfy Section 61 of the Courts of Judicature Act that fresh evidence was required for justice in the case.

The next day, the same court upheld the conviction and 12-year jail term and RM210 million fine on Najib for misappropriating RM42 million in SRC International funds.

Justice Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil, who led a three-member bench comprising justices Has Zanah Mehat and Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera, dismissed Najib’s appeal against the Kuala Lumpur High Court decision on July 28, 2020.

The same day, Najib filed a notice of appeal to the Federal Court.