Court dismisses Lokman’s contempt of court appeal

(FMT) – The Court of Appeal has affirmed the conviction and one-month jail sentence imposed by the High Court on Lokman Noor Adam for contempt of court in Najib Razak’s 1MDB trial.

Lokman, a former Umno Supreme Council member, was said to have intimidated Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin, a key witness in the trial.

Justice Che Ruzima Ghazali said Lokman had disrupted the administration of justice by making a police report and issuing a media statement while the trial was ongoing.

“We find the High Court judge did not err in law and fact in finding him guilty of contempt. There is no merit in the appeal,” she added.

Ruzima, who delivered the oral judgment, sat in a three-member bench with Justices Kamaludin Md Said and Nordin Hassan in hearing the appeal last month.

The court also dismissed the prosecution’s cross-appeal to enhance Lokman’s jail term.

“We cannot simply disturb the sentence imposed as the judge had taken into consideration public interest and other factors,” Ruzima said.

On Sept 29, 2019, Lokman lodged a police report challenging Amhari’s credibility as a witness. While on the witness stand, Amhari had admitted receiving a US$200,000 loan from fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho (Jho Low).

Amhari was Najib’s former special officer.

On the same day, Lokman read out a statement to the press. The video included an interview during which he was said to have attacked the integrity of the attorney-general.

Ruzima said Lokman’s police report did not enjoy absolute privilege as he stated that Najib was subjected to selective prosecution while those who worked under the former prime minister had benefited.

“Lokman was obviously referring to Amhari,” the judge said.

He also repeated the contents of his police report in the press statement.

Ruzima said Lokman’s intention to disrespect the court could also be seen in his conduct.

Lawyer Shafee Abdullah applied for a stay of the sentence and conviction pending Lokman’s final appeal to the Federal Court and also because Lokman was a potential candidate in next month’s general election (GE15).

Deputy public prosecutor Dusuki Mokhtar did not object, while the bench allowed the application.

On Oct 22, 2019, High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah allowed then attorney-general Tommy Thomas to initiate committal proceedings against Lokman.

The prosecution submitted that Lokman’s comments about Amhari were not only tantamount to threatening the witness or other potential witnesses, but had also undermined the administration of justice.

Najib, 67, faces four charges for abusing his position to obtain gratification totalling RM2.3 billion in 1MDB funds and 21 counts of money laundering involving the same amount.

On July 15 last year, Sequerah sentenced Lokman to a month’s jail after finding him guilty of contempt, but allowed a stay provided Lokman posted a RM3,000 bond in one surety.