Federal Court denies Najib’s bid to postpone case

(FMT) – The Federal Court has denied Najib Razak’s bid to postpone his SRC International appeal, with Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat stating that the appeal must proceed as scheduled.

“We will start the appeal (hearing) on Thursday,” she said.

Earlier today, lead counsel Hisyam Teh Poh Teik requested for a postponement of up to “three to four months” as he said that the defence needed more time to prepare for the case, which they took over less than a month ago.

The court previously fixed 10 days – Aug 15 to 26 – to hear the former prime minister’s final appeal to quash his conviction for abuse of power, money laundering and criminal breach of trust over SRC funds amounting to RM42 million.

His conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeal on Dec 8 last year, as was his 12-year jail sentence and RM210 million fine.

However, Najib was released on bail pending his final appeal before the Federal Court.

Rejecting the defence’s request for a postponement, Tengku Maimun said all parties in the case – including Najib, the accused person – were well aware since April that the appeals had been fixed for hearing from Aug 15 to Aug 26, and that the request for an adjournment on the same ground had been refused by the court registrar during the pre-trial case management.

“The appellant (Najib), having been well aware of the dates fixed for hearing, elected to discharge his former solicitors (Shafee & Co) and appoint Zaid Ibrahim Suffian TH Liew & Partners and Haji Hisyam Teh as his solicitors and lead counsel, respectively,” she said.

“This is his right to do so, but he cannot, after having made that decision, turn around and say that his new lawyers are not ready to proceed with the hearing of the appeals.

“The new lawyers, too, having accepted the brief, are not entitled to say they need more time to prepare, knowing fully well that the dates had been fixed well in advance,” the chief justice added.

Tengku Maimun said Najib is entitled to a choice of lawyers but “he is not entitled to make this choice at the expense of the court, the prosecution or the entire justice system”.

“Further, the time taken on this case, especially the number of days fixed for hearing, means many other criminal cases and accused persons have had to wait their turn for their appeals to be heard.

“Justice delayed in this case is also justice denied to other accused persons,” she added.

Other judges who sat with Tengku Maimun are Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim as well as Federal Court judges Nallini Pathmanathan, Mary Lim and Zabidin Mohd Diah.