The country’s highest court will begin hearing former prime minister Najib Razak’s appeal against his conviction and sentence for the misappropriation of RM42 million in SRC International funds today.
It is Najib’s final appeal after a three-man Court of Appeal bench on Dec 8 last year upheld his conviction, 12-year jail term and RM210 million fine imposed on him by then High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Ghazali on July 28, 2020.
It is understood that the Federal Court will first hear Najib’s application to adduce new evidence in the SRC International case in his bid to ultimately seek a retrial.
If Najib fails in this application, the Federal Court is expected to proceed with the hearing of his appeal against his conviction and sentence.
The court has fixed Aug 15 to 19 and 23 to 26 to hear the appeal.
The 69-year-old politician changed his legal team just 21 days before the appeal, appointing criminal lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik as his lead counsel and law firm Zaid Ibrahim Suflan TH Liew & Partners’ (ZIST) partners Liew Teck Huat and M Rueben as his new solicitors for the appeal.
Messrs Shafee & Co, led by Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, had represented Najib in the SRC International case from the day he was charged. However, on July 26, Najib discharged with immediate effect the firm and lawyers from representing him in his final appeal.
On July 26, Najib’s new lawyers asked the Federal Court to postpone the appeal hearing as a "wholly new team" had taken over the SRC International case.
However, on July 28, the Federal Court rejected the postponement bid and directed that the appeal hearing start on Aug 15 as scheduled.
Najib has submitted 94 grounds in his petition of appeal for why he should be freed of the charges. Among others, he says that both the Court of Appeal and the High Court erred in fact and/or law by failing to properly evaluate evidence and failing to recognise the differences between proven and unproven facts, and between inferences that might permissibly be drawn and mere conjecture based on suggestion, unsubstantiated allegations, conjecture, suspicion and hearsay.
Najib was charged on July 4, 2018, an unprecedented case in the nation’s judicial history.
On July 28, 2020, Nazlan, who is now a Court of Appeal judge, sentenced Najib to 10 years' jail for each of the three counts of criminal breach of trust 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.
However, Najib would have to serve only 12 years in jail as the judge ordered for all the jail sentences to run concurrently.
Najib is currently out on bail of RM2 million with two sureties pending his appeal.
Ad hoc prosecutor V Sithambaram will appear for the respondent (the public prosecutor) while counsel Hisyam, Liew and Rueben will represent Najib as the appellant.