The Federal Court was today told that Najib Razak’s SRC International appeal went wrong when he "changed horses midway" last year.
Ad hoc prosecutor V Sithambaram was referring to the change of lawyers from Shafee & Co to a new legal team comprising Hisyam Teh Poh Teik as well as counsel from Messr Zaid Ibrahim Suflan TH Liew & Partners (ZIST).
He said Najib was represented by Muhammad Shafee Abdullah from the High Court level of the SRC International case in 2018 and only changed lawyers in 2022 prior to the hearing of the appeal before the Federal Court in August last year.
"If not for this changing of horses, I do not think this (review) would be before Your Lordship today.
"While it is the accused’s right to choose his counsel, the counsel must be ready to act and willing to act on the given day. The truth is, they did not want to go on with the case, that’s why they wanted the adjournment," he said.
On justice Mohd Nazlan Ghazali’s previous position in Maybank, the prosecutor said it was never a secret and Nazlan’s role in the bank was irrelevant to the SRC International case against Najib.
"It was certainly no subject of this review," he added.
Shafee however replied that the switch was the first time Najib's counsel had changed in the case, adding that it was done in good faith.
He said the change of counsel was due to the local courts not allowing Jonathan Laidlaw, the Queen’s Counsel from the UK, to be temporarily admitted to the Bar to represent Najib in his final appeal.
"There was no agenda to engineer an adjournment," he said.
The duo submitted this before Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Abdul Rahman Sebli, who chaired a five-member panel comprising Federal Court judges Vernon Ong Lam Kiat, Rhodzariah Bujang and Nordin Hassan and Court of Appeal judge Abu Bakar Jais.
Najib, in his review application, is seeking to overturn the decision made by a five-member bench of the Federal Court led by Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat on Aug 23 last year, upholding his conviction, 12-year jail sentence and fine.
The hearing continues tomorrow morning.