Apex court: Gopal Sri Ram can continue to lead prosecution against Najib in 1MDB-Tanore trial
“It is our considered opinion that the [seven] questions posed had been decided in the Court of Appeal case of Public Prosecutor vs Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim [in 2014] and this is endorsed by the Federal Court.”
(The Edge Markets) – Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram can continue to lead the prosecution as senior deputy public prosecutor (DPP) in the ongoing 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB)-Tanore trial involving Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
The Federal Court also found no problem should the former Federal Court judge decide to appear in the continued prosecution of Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah in his RM9.5 million money laundering and tax evasion case, when Sri Ram had represented Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in a civil proceeding on the same issue.
A three-member Federal Court bench on Monday (May 23) dismissed the judicial review application filed by Najib and Shafee separately to challenge the appointment of Sri Ram as senior DPP to prosecute them.
Justice Datuk Seri Mohd Zawawi Mohd Salleh, who led the three-member bench, said Najib and Shafee should fulfil the requirements under Section 96 of the Courts of Judicature Act in order for the parties to decide in granting leave (permission) to have the appeal heard on its merits.
“One of the requirements is that the question of law that is to be decided — the general principle is that it had not been decided by the Federal Court and secondly, on the prospect of its success.
“It is our considered opinion that the [seven] questions posed had been decided in the Court of Appeal case of Public Prosecutor vs Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim [in 2014] and this is endorsed by the Federal Court.
“The plain reading and construction of Section 376(3) and 379 of the Criminal Procedure Code relates to two modes of appointment, firstly direct appointment by the Public Prosecutor and Section 379 via a fiat. There is no reason for us to depart from the correct construction of these two cases. Hence, this leave application to both applications are to be dismissed with no order as to costs,” he added.
The other members of the bench in the unanimous decision were Justices Datuk Nalini Pathmanathan and Datuk Vernon Ong Lam Kiat.
Najib and Shafee had previously made criminal challenges against the appointment of Sri Ram in prosecuting them, but this was also dismissed by the High Court up to the Federal Court.
They also filed separate judicial review proceedings in December to challenge Sri Ram’s appointment to prosecute Najib and Shafee on the grounds the letter of appointment signed by the then attorney-general (AG) Tan Sri Tommy Thomas was invalid and sought a declaration there was a conflict of interest in Sri Ram’s appointment and requested an order to prohibit him from leading the prosecution team in all of their cases.
On Aug 28, 2020, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur dismissed the judicial review applications by Najib and Shafee to remove Sri Ram as senior DPP in their respective cases.
Last Nov 8, the former prime minister and Shafee also lost their appeals in the Court of Appeal to disqualify Sri Ram as senior DPP in their respective cases resulting in Monday’s appeal.
Shafee and Sarah Abishegam appeared for Najib while Harvinderjit Singh appeared for Shafee in the application.
Senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan and Liew Horng Bin appeared for Sri Ram, the AG and the Malaysian government in the application.
Shamsul had argued that those questions posed by Shafee and Harvinderjit had already been decided in the Anwar case where Justice Zawawi had also sat in the bench at the Federal Court on the matter and hence, this court should not grant leave.