PUTRAJAYA: Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s trial on seven charges relating to SRC International Sdn Bhd funds will not proceed today.
This followed a unanimous decision by the Court of Appeal three-man bench yesterday to allow Najib’s application to temporarily postpone the trial pending the disposal of his appeal over the public prosecutor’s withdrawal of the certificate of transfer on his seven charges.
Justice Datuk Ahmadi Asnawi who chaired the bench said the court noted that the public prosecutor’s contention that the charges preferred against Najib was serious in nature and were allegedly committed by him in his capacity as the former Prime Minister of Malaysia.
He said the court also acknowledged the public prosecutor arguments that the case had attracted international and public interest and hence commencement of the trial should be on schedule.
“We are satisfied that the applicant (Najib) had shown special circumstances for a stay to be granted,” he said.
Justice Ahmadi said if the stay order was not granted and the trial proceeded, it would render the proceedings a nullity which would be a waste of time and a waste of public money.
“We are further of the view, we do not find evidence of delaying tactics as claimed by the public prosecutor,” he said.
The other two judges were Datuk Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah and Datuk Yew Jen Kie.
Najib sought to stay the trial relating to his seven charges over funds amounting to RM42 million belonging to SRC International Sdn Bhd which was scheduled to commence tomorrow as he wanted the court to decide on his appeal first.
He had filed an appeal against a High Court decision in allowing Attorney-General Tommy Thomas’ application to withdraw the certificate to transfer the seven charges linked to SRC International faced by Najib from the Sessions Court to the High Court and the matter had yet to be heard by the Court of Appeal.
On July 4 last year, the 66-year old Pekan member of Parliament was charged with three counts of criminal breach of trust and one of abuse of power for gratification involving SRC International funds amounting to RM42 million.
On Aug 8 last year, he was charged again in the Sessions Court on three counts of money laundering involving the same amount of the same funds.
Thomas said he would write to Court of Appeal President to request for an early hearing date for the appeal.
Najib’s counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah earlier submitted in the court that there were special circumstances for the court to grant the stay or else the trial would become a nullity if the appellate court ruled in favour of his client’s appeal.
Thomas countered by saying the seriousness of the offence should be taken into account, adding that there were also delaying tactics engineered by the applicant.
He said the prosecution had given 25 volumes of documents consisting of 5,000 pages and 26 witnesses statements to the defence.
Outside the court, prominent lawyer Datuk V. Sithambaram who was appointed to assist the prosecution team told reporters that the trial would be slightly delayed, but they would be able to get it back on track, adding that it was just a legal hiccup.
When asked by the media to clarify regarding his degree from the University of Nottingham, Najib replied: “Of course my degree is legitimate.”
Earlier yesterday, Keranji assemblyman Chong Zhemin said MCA president Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong should question Najib about the latter’s degree as part of his checks on Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders’ qualifications. — Bernama